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'Staggering' amount of property taxes paid before 2018 tax reform

Cape Elizabeth taxpayers looking to beat the 2018 tax-reform law contributed to an "extremely busy" close of 2017 for town officials.

By Dec. 31, receivables for December showed payments of just over $2.85 million, Town Manager Matthew Sturgis told members of the Town Council at their meeting Jan. 8. "To provide perspective, to understand how heavily this hit in the town, last December the town received just under $130,000 in real estate property tax receivables in the month of December," Sturgis said.

"Let that sink in for a second," he said.

He attributed the activity to taxpayers wanting to deduct local property taxes for the second half of the fiscal year, due in April 2018, on their 2017 federal returns. The tax-reform bill signed in to law in late December puts a $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes after Jan. 1.

Sturgis thanked Assistant Town Manager Debra Lane and the tax-office staff for processing the rush so efficiently. "She (Lane) would on report on a daily basis the receivables that came in overnight electronically, and it was staggering," Sturgis said. "And the fact that they did that all within the last 12 days of the month of December -- because when you think about the timing of when everything passed, that's when the proverbial tax bill hit the fan," he said.