Like their counterparts around the commonwealth, tax collectors on Martha’s Vineyard are reporting their offices are busier than usual as taxpayers rush to prepay property taxes before the end of the year.

The reason for the rush is the new federal tax regulations signed into law on Dec. 22. Under the new legislation, deductions for combined state and local income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes are capped at $10,000.

Tisbury tax collector Jon Snyder: “Oh boy, we have had many, many people call.” — Mark Alan Lovewell

Whether the prepayments will be allowed as deductions later remains unsettled; the Internal Revenue Service cautioned taxpayers this week that prepaid property taxes are deductible only in certain circumstances.

Nevertheless, in Tisbury, tax collector Jon Snyder said the phones have been ringing for two straight weeks.
 “Oh boy, we have had many, many people call to see if they could prepay their taxes for the spring,” he told the Gazette Wednesday. “This of course is being driven by the new tax bill that is just being signed into law. For Tisbury, we are happy to accept early payments.”

In Edgartown, town collector Melissa Kuehne said it’s not unusual for taxpayers to beat the year end deadline for third and fourth quarter property tax payments, but this year is different.

“There’s definitely some more,” she said.

For taxpayers in states with relatively high income and sales taxes, as well as communities like those on the Vineyard with relatively high property valuations, the $10,000 cap on deductions could make a significant difference when filing tax returns. For those who own a second home on the Island, the new tax law is a double whammy.

“Some of our taxpayers are seasonal and they have other properties,” said Ms. Kuehne. “We are getting a little bit of unusually high requests for the third and fourth quarter installments.”

The increase in calls and visitors to town halls is putting a strain on some town employees, including in West Tisbury, where tax collector Brent Taylor runs a one-woman department.

“Everybody’s concerned about the new tax situation federally, and they want to pay their real estate taxes before the end of the year to get the deduction,” Ms. Taylor said. “We’re encouraging people to pay online because the payment is immediately accepted and it’s easy for people. They don’t have to go to the post office or come in here, and a lot of people are doing that.”

Ms. Taylor said while a lot of payments are coming in early, it is not especially a boon for town finances.

“We plan for the tax payments to come in on a quarterly basis, so this is going to be a lot of money earlier than we planned,” she said. “But the interest rate is so low, it’s not like we’re going to make a lot of money keeping it in the bank. It’s not more money coming in, it’s just coming in earlier than it would have.”

Since the last two days of the year fall on a weekend, the last day to prepay real estate taxes in person or over the phone is Friday, Dec. 29.