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December 27, 2017
Dear KLSD Community,
In an effort to assist Katonah-Lewisboro School District property owners in navigating the new Federal Tax Law, School District officials and the Board of Education have been consulting over the past several days with town officials, the District's legal counsel, the New York State Council of School Superintendents, the New York State Association of School Business Officials, and the Westchester/Putnam School Boards Association to determine if it is possible to accommodate pre-payment of the 2018-2019 School District portion of the tax bill. We hope the following information will be useful to our community.
In the late afternoon of December 22, 2017, the Governor of the State of New York issued Executive Order 172, which sought to facilitate the prepayment of property taxes by New York citizens before January 1, 2018. The Order was issued in response to the recently enacted federal tax legislation that, in part, severely limited the deductibility of property and state income taxes from federal taxable income. While laudable in its intent, significant ambiguity accompanied the issuance of this Executive Order. SIMPLY STATED, THE ORDER FACILITATES THE PREPAYMENT OF UNPAID PROPERTY TAXES FOR THE CURRENT 2017-2018 SCHOOL YEAR. IT DOES NOT AUTHORIZE THE PREPAYMENT OF SCHOOL TAXES FOR THE 2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR.
Prepayment of Taxes Already Levied for the Current 2017-2018 School Year
School tax bills for the 2017-18 school year (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018) have been sent some time ago to property owners identifying the amount of taxes payable for the current 2017-2018 school year. Many municipalities allow the payment of these taxes in installments, with some payments due beyond January 1, 2018. Prepayment of any remaining taxes due under these circumstances, prior to January 1, 2018, is permitted. You are encouraged to contact your local tax collector’s office for details.
Prepayment of Taxes Not Yet Levied for the Next School Year - 2018-2019
The Executive Order does not allow for the prepayment of school taxes for the 2018-2019 school year (July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019). Unlike villages, towns and counties, a school district fiscal year runs from July 1st to June 30th. Further, in accordance with New York Law, prior to the collection of taxes, school districts are required to construct a school budget, seek approval of the budget by its voters, and finalize the tax warrant, where applicable, or set the tax levy. Boards of Education will not be considering final approval of those budgets until March and/or April of 2018. Pursuant to New York State Education Law, required taxpayer voter approval of these budgets will not occur until the third Tuesday in May, as fixed by statute. The Executive Order does not modify or suspend any of these Education Law requirements for the adoption of a school budget.
Likewise, the Order does not suspend any provision of Article 13 of the Real Property Tax Law which governs the levy of property taxes for most school districts. Before the local assessing jurisdiction issues the tax warrant to collect taxes for 2018-19 school year, the law requires that the school budget be approved by the voters. Accordingly, the Order does not provide any legal authority for school districts to now adopt estimated 2018- 2019 budgets and/or set tax levies for the 2018-2019 school year, nor to authorize the collection of taxes corresponding to those levies. This lack of authority legally precludes the prepayment of 2018-19 school taxes before January 1st.
We have been advised by counsel that our school district may not and should not authorize the prepayment of 2018-2019 school taxes.
Andrew Selesnick, Superintendent of Schools