Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin is urging residents who prepaid their 2018 property taxes and normally pay through mortgage escrow accounts to contact their mortgage servicer immediately to assure that their accounts are reconciled and up to date to reflect the most recent tax payments. Most importantly, Clavin pressed homeowners to act in order to make sure that they are not double billed or impacted by costly bank errors.
The Receiver explained that residents who notify their mortgage providers about their tax prepayment will learn how to ensure that their accounts and monthly payments are accurate and up to date, while protecting themselves from the prospect of being overbilled or making unnecessary payments.
“If you contact your mortgage provider as soon as possible to inform them of your tax prepayment, you’re doing yourself a favor by preventing potential issues such as double billing or other errors related to your account,” Clavin said. “By taking the initiative to reconcile your account with your financial institution, you will save yourself headaches down the road.”
Nearly 10,000 residents rushed to the Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes office to prepay their property taxes before December 31, 2017. When the Governor’s Executive Order – issued the Friday before Christmas Day – directed localities to accommodate the prepayment of 2018 property taxes, taxpayers had very little time to act. The Governor’s Order was issued in response to the overhaul of the federal tax code, which imposes a $10,000 cap on the deduction of property taxes and other expenses starting in 2018. By prepaying April 2018 school taxes and/or 2018 general taxes by December 31, 2017, people could potentially deduct the payments from their 2017 tax returns (property owners must meet eligibility requirements).
Clavin responded to the Governor’s Order by opening the office for extended and weekend hours through December 31st. The Receiver continually urged residents to consult with their tax professionals before prepaying taxes. Clavin also encouraged taxpayers with mortgage escrow accounts to inform their banks or financial institutions about the prepayment, and is now urging them to act immediately if they have not yet done so.
For residents who do contact their mortgage servicers, Clavin urges them to have their tax payment receipts handy, along with a recent mortgage statement if available. The Receiver also noted that each bank or financial institution will differ in their verification methods, likely requesting a copy of your tax payment receipt. Once banks verify tax prepayments, they may deal with the issue in a variety of ways, which can include an adjustment of monthly payments or escrow accounts, depending on the financial institution.
“Be sure to have your tax receipt and mortgage documentation on hand when you call to prevent any misunderstanding or delays,” Clavin added. “Do not rely on the advice of friends or family, you must speak with your mortgage servicer directly because they all have different standards and regulations.”
Clavin offered valuable information for homeowners who experience difficulty in dealing with their bank or mortgage holder. Specifically, those residents who are not satisfied with their lender’s efforts with respect to reconciling property tax prepayments with monthly mortgage amounts or escrow accounts, should contact the New York State Department of Financial Services at (800) 342-3736. The department’s website can be found at www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/fileacomplaint.htm.
The Receiver also offered a helpful checklist for those homeowners who prepaid their 2018 property taxes and want to reconcile accounts with their mortgage holder:
- Call your bank NOW!
- Have your property tax receipt handy.
- Have a recent mortgage statement in hand when calling your bank.
- Have your bank respond in writing to your inquiry so you have a permanent record.
- Reconcile your prepayment with bank records to ensure accuracy.
- Have concerns? Call the NYS Department of Financial Services at (800) 342-3736.
Those who prepaid their taxes in late December were issued a temporary tax receipt, and should be receiving a regular receipt via mail in the coming days and weeks. While the Receiver of Taxes Office cannot answer questions related to mortgages or escrow payments, the staff is available to assist regarding your payment of school and general taxes by calling (516) 538-1500 or by visiting the tax office (200 North Franklin Street, Hempstead) during regular business hours (Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.).
“It would be fair to assume that your bank will not be contacting you anytime soon other than to sell you a product or service, and the last thing I want to see is a taxpayer struggling to pay bills due to a bank’s clerical errors or a lack of communication,” Clavin said. “Make a New Year’s resolution and save some stress by picking up a phone with your tax receipt in hand and contact your mortgage provider today.”