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Statement of Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner on Bill that Gives County Residents the Option to Prepay their Property Taxes

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Statement of Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner on Bill that Gives County Residents the Option to Prepay their Property Taxes


ROCKVILLE, Md., Dec. 26, 2017—Today the Montgomery County Council passed Bill 42-17, Property Tax Advance Payment — Authorized, which allows county residents to pay their property taxes in advance. 

Councilmember Berliner’s full statement on today’s vote is below:

Today we have done right by our residents.  For weeks, many of us have bemoaned the Republican tax bill for a host of reasons.  But high on the list was how punitive it is to high-cost, "blue" states and counties like ours.  Capping the deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000 will take thousands of dollars out of the pockets of a big chunk of our residents, almost 40% of whom itemize their deductions today. 

My sole motivation when I first proposed protecting our residents and my sole motivation today in voting for this measure remains the same:  we must do what we can to protect our people from the negative impact of this terrible Republican tax legislation.  And this legislation before us is the only legislation that I am aware of that can postpone the pain for one more year.  There may be other steps that we can and should take going forward to help others hurt by the federal bill, and we should be supportive of those.  But this is the only step we at the local level can and should take to help our residents right now.

It has been argued that taking this step will subject us to complaints that we can't do it right in such a compressed time frame, that we will not be able to get the word out broadly, and that if it is ultimately deemed effective, it will only help some who are in a position to prepay.  All of that is true.  As has been often said, the perfect is often the enemy of the good, and I, for one, would much rather be criticized for trying to help than not helping at all. 

It has also been argued that this will only help the super-rich.  That simply is not true.  All of us have been contacted by residents, teachers, government workers, and other middle income taxpayers, who were able to buy homes 20 to 30 years ago, and whose homes have greatly increased in value over that time.  Here is what one of our constituents wrote:

I live in the Four Corners area of Silver Spring, in Eastern Montgomery County.  I have a wife, and one young child.  We have good jobs, and while we are reasonably well off, each of our jobs falls right close to the median income for Montgomery County, so I will not be pulling into Rockville in a limousine anytime soon.

Those are the people we are helping.  Helping them save thousands of their hard-earned dollars. And I am happy we can and that we will. 

Finally, it has been suggested that this action will rob our county of some dollars that we would otherwise gain as a result of the Republican tax bill.  We would gain them because since there would be fewer deductions, our residents would have higher adjusted gross incomes, and therefore our county's income tax revenue would be ever so slightly higher. 

My response to that argument is twofold.  The interest earned on getting advance property taxes seven or more months early should offset some, if not all, the foregone revenue.  But more importantly, these dollars are ill-gotten gains.  Those dollars have never before come to our county, and it is not fair that these dollars will come to us in the future.  That had been our consistent message when protesting the Republican tax bill.  I am pleased the Council was able to come together to recognize this and to allow our residents the option to prepay their property taxes.

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Release ID: 17-397
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926 , Aaron Kraut 240-777-7962