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Weather Forecast; IRS Cautions Taxpayers; Prepaying Property Taxes; Steelers React to Harrison's Move; Sexual Assault and Harassment on Planes. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired December 28, 2017 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Single digits and below in Chicago. But your wind chill at midnight's going to be 20 below zero. The big story, the big number here for New Year's Eve, Times Square, it is going to feel like 3 below right there when the ball drops.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Chad, how's Vermont going to be looking? I'm going there tomorrow for skiing.

MYERS: Well, Vermont has had a lot of snow. And I have friends in Rutland and they are loving the snow up there.


MYERS: So, for a change, a big, big season for them. So, enjoy.

CAMEROTA: I'm just a little worried about the temperature of -- because I don't really like cold weather.


CAMEROTA: So this could be a problem, I'm thinking, with the wind chill in Vermont.

BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: And you chose a ski vacation.

CAMEROTA: You know what, these --


CAMEROTA: I'm rethinking my life choices right now. I'm --

MYERS: There's always a fire in a cabin somewhere.

CAMEROTA: I appreciate that. And you can get nachos in any state. So I will be looking forward to that.

WEIR: Please, please make that the title of your autobiography.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, Chad.

WEIR: Always a fire in a cabin somewhere. CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, listen to what's happening today. People in these high tax states are rushing out -- you see the long lines -- to prepay their 2018 property taxes before they lose these deductions thanks to the new tax bill. Will this work? We get the answers, next.


[06:35:08] CAMEROTA: All right, so this morning people are lining up in states like California and New York and New Jersey trying to prepay their 2018 property taxes before New Year's Day because the new tax law limits the amount of money you can deduct in very high tax states like those for your state and local taxes. So people could end up owing a lot more next year. But the IRS now says those prepayments can only be deducted in certain circumstances and that's causing even more confusion.

Justin Sweet is the town clerk of Clarkstown, New York, part of Rockland County, with has some of the highest property taxes in the nation. He's here to explain to us what the scene is like.

Mr. Sweet, thank you very much for being here.


CAMEROTA: I'm doing well.

How are you doing?

SWEET: Doing good.

CAMEROTA: What has the situation been like since people got word of the tax bill?

SWEET: It's been building for a couple weeks since it started to be discussed on the news. And then once the bill actually passed, it's gotten very frenzied. People are calling. They're coming in. They want to know if they can prepay. How can I get this in to 2017?

CAMEROTA: I've heard you described it as chaos. I mean what is the scene like? That --

SWEET: It's gotten chaotic. I mean we have a set amount of staff. So when we get 20 times as many people, it gets chaotic. But we're handling it. And it's just a ton of people very -- you know, New Yorkers are very sensitive to taxes already. So when they hear this, it just exacerbated a situation that was already very sore for them. So --

CAMEROTA: I mean, by the way, this is a gamble. They're hoping that they can sneak it in before New Year's and not have to pay more on their 2018 taxes.

SWEET: Right.

CAMEROTA: But, is that decided?

SWEET: I don't think so. I mean it would be an IRS determination, I guess. So a lot of people are unsure. A lot of people have said, I don't know whether I should do this. I'm getting conflicting information. But they have to pay either way, so they figure, I'll just pay now.

CAMEROTA: Right. But I mean it is a lot of -- it's a big bite of the apple --

SWEET: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: To have to pay your 2017 taxes this year and your 2018 taxes, particularly in these high tax states. And so what if the IRS decides, no, you can't actually pay early and skip this loophole?

SWEET: I guess they just won't be able to take the deduction.

CAMEROTA: But would the state or local municipality ever give them back the money?

SWEET: No, we -- it only goes one way.

CAMEROTA: I've noticed that. Taxes do seem to go one way.

SWEET: We just take the money.

CAMEROTA: Yes, you take the money.

SWEET: We don't give it back.

CAMEROTA: Right. So people don't know if what they're doing is right because there's so much confusion. Can -- is there any way for you to categorize the people that you're seeing stand in line. Are these sort of all across the financial spectrum, or are these upper middle class people who have huge property tax?

SWEET: Well, I'd say it's all across the spectrum. I honestly didn't see a whole lot of people I'd say that were on the high end of the spectrum. I don't know what advice, you know, they're getting or whether it just doesn't matter to them because of the income tax or whatever. But all sorts of different people. And a lot of desperation. A lot of confusion. So we're just trying to say, well, we're here. We made it happen. We can take it in '17 if that's what you want to do. And we're just trying to do our little part to help them.

CAMEROTA: What sorts of things are people asking you, are people saying to you?

SWEET: Well, a lot of people ask questions, is this going to work, am I going to be able to take the deduction? Obviously I can't -- I can't answer those types of questions. I have to tell them -- I've said 50 times yesterday, that's a question for our accountant. But we try to just assure them that, you know, we'll get it in and we'll give you a receipt and at least you'll have the evidence that you need to try and -- try and do it. CAMEROTA: All right, Justin Sweet, thank you very much for taking time

away from the confusion to help us.

SWEET: You're welcome. Going right back to it.

CAMEROTA: Yes, very good.


CAMEROTA: All right, Happy New Year.

SWEET: Happy New Year. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right, Bill.

WEIR: Well, Alisyn, what about all the folks outside of that county in New York? Is prepaying property tax a good idea?

Joining me, David Cay Johnston, editor in chief of "DC Report," also the author of the forthcoming book "It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America."

Good morning, David. Merry Christmas to you, belated.


WEIR: So you wrote an interesting op-ed in the "DC Report" where you tried to give us an answer on whether this is smart or not. Is it a good move for folks to start thinking about getting out there and paying next year's property taxes this week?

JOHNSTON: Well, as with all things tax, it depends.

The first thing to do is look at your 2016 tax return on line 45. That's on the back page of the form 1040. That's called the Alternative Minimum Tax. If you're paying Alternative Minimum Tax, it doesn't matter, you don't get to deduct property and state and local taxes anyway.

Now, if you didn't pay Alternative Minimum Tax, the next question is you need to find out is, and this is trickier, will paying the 2018 property tax in 2017 push you into the separate and parallel Alternative Minimum Tax system, in which case you wouldn't get any deductions at all for the year 2017. And you can't do that without having some professional advice.

WEIR: So the Alternative Minimum Tax now hits people in what bracket? What, $80,000 and up or --

[06:40:00] JOHNSTON: Well, in theory it can start lower than that, but essentially if you make over $200,000, and in many cases $100,000 to $150,000 and live in high tax states, like New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, you're likely to be under the Alternative Minimum Tax system.

Now, there is one other play here, and that is, you can hustle down to your local community foundation -- and disclosure, my wife runs a community foundation -- today or tomorrow, set up a donor advise fund and you could prefund say the next five years of charitable giving you do every year and you'll get a deduction this year that you wouldn't be eligible for next year, or you wouldn't be able to deduct as much of it next year.

WEIR: Right, let's throw up a graphic, other reasons why you might not want to prepay this week and not worry about it. Your local tax authority hasn't officially assessed them. If you pay less than $10,000 in state and local taxes. And as you said, if you're affected by the AMT.

But what about charitable giving? This time of year, for a lot of folks, it's a ritual to give away to the less fortunate and then take the deduction. Does that still hold?

JOHNSTON: Well, if you don't have a mortgage and don't have mortgage interest next year, you're going to get, if you're a married couple, a $24,000 standard deduction. If you take $10,000 for state and local taxes, there's another $14,000 in deductions you would need before you get any tax benefit, which is why I suggest that if you don't have a mortgage and you have the capacity to do so, fund today through your community foundation the next five years or ten years, whatever you can afford, of your charitable giving and then you dole the money out in the future but you get the deduction this year in full. But you've got to act fast. You've got today and tomorrow.

WEIR: OK. Interesting.

And then you say also, you know, check your -- check with your tax professional or do a -- maybe a test run if you use the software. Do you think the software systems are updated at this point to account for all the changes?

JOHNSTON: Close enough that you can see if it tips you into the AMT. If you do your own taxes, take your 2016 return, add whatever property taxes you might pay in advance to it, and see if it tips you into the AMT. If it doesn't, you're probably just fine in that case.

There's one other wrinkle here. The IRS says you have to have an assessment from your county. You can't just pay what you think will be the tax next year. Now, a number of counties, like the one I love in, Monroe County, around Rochester, New York, are trying to get tax bills ready tomorrow, the 29th, the last business day of the year, so that people can pay them. But, in generally, if this bill hadn't been passed at the last moment, we wouldn't have this problem and we wouldn't be adding all of this complexity.

WEIR: Well, a lot to think about and good questions to ask your tax professional.

David Cay Johnston, thank you so much. Have a great Thursday.

JOHNSTON: You're welcome.

WEIR: Coming up -- CAMEROTA: That really helped boil it down.

WEIR: Yes, he did.

CAMEROTA: We need to have him on every day.

WEIR: His piece in is a good place to start.


WEIR: Very helpful.

Coming up, we're going to talk about the prepaying taxes confusion with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. That's coming up later in the show.

CAMEROTA: OK. Then imagine this, being sexually assaulted on your next airplane flight. This apparently happens more than we know. If it happens midflight, then what? What can you do? We have disturbing new information ahead.


[06:47:37] WEIR: More than a few members of the Pittsburgh Steelers are blasting their former teammate James Harrison for joining their rivals, the Patriots.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, Andy.


You know, I really hope the Steelers and Patriots play in the AFC Championship game because James Harrison taking this rivalry to a whole nother level after being released by the Steelers. Harrison joining the Patriots on Tuesday.

This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by the new 2018 Ford F-150.

Now, Harrison, been a fan favorite in Pittsburgh for years, winning two Super Bowls and going to five Pro Bowls and joining the rival Patriots just really hurts for Pittsburgh fans. Harrison can now give the Patriots vital info on how the Steelers do things.

And Steelers offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey, well he thinks Harrison has ruined his Steelers legacy by forcing his way into the Patriots.


MAURKICE POUNCEY, PITTSBURGH STEELERS CENTER: Well, he erased himself. He erased his own legacy here. Let's be serious.

If you didn't want to be here, just come out and say it. Don't make it look like the team -- like it's the team's fault and the organization. Like you think the team and the organization wanted to get rid of James Harrison. Like, let's be serious. Come on now.


SCHOLES: And multiple Steelers echoed that sentiment saying that Harrison forced his way out of Pittsburgh. And I'll tell you what, Alisyn, just like I said earlier, I really hope these two teams face off in the AFC Championship game because this matchup's getting pretty salty.

CAMEROTA: I hope that for you, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for the "Bleacher Report."

CAMEROTA: OK, listen to this. Sexual assault at 30,000 feet. What happens if you're sexually assaulted on a flight? Disturbing new information on the limits of help, next.


[06:52:40] CAMEROTA: Four women speaking out to CNN claiming they were sexual assaulted and harassed on commercial airline flights. More shocking, how the flight crews responded.

CNN's Rene Marsh has the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This gentlemen?




RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A man arrested last week accused of fondling two female passengers on board a united airlines flight from Newark to Buffalo, New York. Katie Campos was one of them.

KATIE CAMPOS, UNITED AIRLINES PASSENGER: He grabbed my like upper thigh like -- like in my -- like the crotch area. And he grabbed it pretty forcefully.

MARSH: A police report says that the man told the other woman he would like to kiss her. When she declined, he started stroking her leg. The man now charged with disorderly conduct.

United Airlines told CNN, we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and our pilot requested that local law enforcement meet the aircraft on arrival.

Not enough for Campos who tweeted, do better, United Airlines. She says the flight attendant did not offer her to switch seats. She was to demand it. She was then placed directly behind the harasser, the airline says because there were few empty seats. The touching continued.

CAMPOS: At the end of the day, they didn't protect my safety or those around me and I don't think that that's a good excuse.

MARSH: Like Compos, these three women tell CNN they were sexually harassed or assault on commercial flights. And all of them complained the flight crew did little or nothing to help.

AYANNA HART, DELTA AIRLINES PASSENGER: He grabbed my -- my arm and my side right under my left breast, right next to my left breast.

MARSH: Ayanna Hart was on a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Denver in May. She says the flight attendant was of no help.

HART: The flight attendant said, oh, don't worry about him, he flies with us all the time. He's Delta Platinum.

MARSH: Hart has a pending lawsuit against Delta for failing to intervene and continuing to serve him alcohol. The airline would not comment on this case citing pending litigation but said it takes these incidents seriously and with law enforcement investigates them.

ALLISON DVALADZE, DELTA AIRLINES PASSENGER: I was dozing off when I felt a hand in my crotch and realized that the man next to me was holding -- was grabbing my crotch.

MARSH: Allison Dvaladze filed a complaint with Delta after her flight from Seattle to Amsterdam.

DVALADZE: There was not a clear procedure for what they should do. They asked me what I wanted them to do.

[06:55:00] MARSH: A month later, she received an e-mail saying it's not fair when one person's behavior affects another and, as a goodwill gesture, offered her 10,000 miles.

DVALADZE: If somebody reports a crime to an airline, that it should be flagged. It should not be treated as if it's lost luggage.

MARSH: The airline told CNN, we continue to be disheartened by the events Ms. Dvaladze described.

JENNIFER REFIEYAN, UNITED AIRLINES PASSENGER: He started to touch my leg, stroke my leg, tickle it.

MARSH: Jennifer Refieyan was on a flight from Newark to Phoenix. She too says the flight crew did not move her away from her harasser. Instead, the airline made an offer.

REFIEYAN: He gave me four $100 gift certificates for travel on an upcoming United flight and he refused to let me talk to a manager.

MARSH: But shortly after a news article about her ordeal was published, United management called to, in their words, check on her. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This message is for Ms. Jennifer Refieyan. This

is (DELETED) call from United Airlines executive offices. I can't even imagine, you know, what you went through when you were on the flight with the gentleman seated next to you.

SARA NELSON, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: At thousands of feet in the air, you can't call for help, you can't remove the problem.

MARSH: Sara Nelson is president of one of the world's largest flight attendant unions.

NELSON: In my 22 years as a flight attendant, I have never taken part in a conversation in training or otherwise about how to handle sexual harassment or sexual assault.

MARSH: The union surveyed nearly 2,000 flight attendants. One out of five said they've received a report of a passenger's sexual assault. But law enforcement was contacted less than half the time.

CNN reached out to all of the major U.S. airlines and the industry trade group that represents them. None agreed to go on camera but all released statement with a similar message, passenger safety and security is their priority and they say flight attendants are trained to handle these incidents, but none gave a detailed example of the policies or guidelines.

No federal regulatory agency tracks how many mid-air sexual assaults happen nationwide, but the FBI does track how many it investigates. Federal data shows a 66 percent increase from 2014 to 2017. The FBI says it's unclear what's behind the rise. But what is clear for these women, flight crews need to do more, because at 30,000 feet, there's no escape.

MARSH (on camera): Well, I want to thank all four women for sharing their stories with CNN. The four women in this piece say they want three things. One, flight crews should always separate the victim from the harasser. Two, do not allow drunk people on flights. Alcohol played a role in a lot of these cases. And, three, call law enforcement to report these cases upon landing every time. They also advise, try to avoid the middle or window seat if possible. Sitting in the aisle allows for an easier getaway if necessary.

We do want to point out, several lawmakers have been pushing for legislation that would beef up flight crew training and mandate better tracking of these incidents.

Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.


CAMEROTA: OK. This is fascinating to me because this is the upshot, I think, of the Me Too movement. You know, we've heard so many people say that you'll know really it's a watershed moment when it's not just high profile harassers, when it's not the Matt Lauers and Charlie Roses, when it reaches out to everybody in all walks of life. So, here we go. This has been happening and now suddenly people feel free to talk about it and there will be legislation to try to squelch it however they can.

WEIR: We seen passengers come to other passengers aids in different ways over the years.


WEIR: But you would think that people would rally around somebody if they raised their hand and claim it. But, my goodness --


WEIR: That's the last thing you should have to worry about.

CAMEROTA: Of course. And, listen, I mean their demands are not that great, that somebody -- that police should meet them when they land. That they should be moved from the seat away from the harasser. It seems like the airlines can get their arms around that one.

All right, thank you very much to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say it's time to move on.

CAMEROTA: Roy Moore filing a lawsuit to try to stop Alabama from certifying the state's special Senate election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a desperate attempt. It's almost certainly not going to work.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have more legislation passed, a record, since Harry Truman. We broke that record.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lie. Even if it were the truth, it's the stupidest metric.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why (ph) would you judge how successful a president is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He gets a pass with the people that supported him. They always knew who this guy was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the time I've been in this building, I've never seen a line that long.

WEIR: Citizens lining up to take advantage of a popular deduction one last time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The highest property taxes in the nation. I don't want a situation where some states are winners and other states are losers.

[07:00:05] ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota. CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Chris is off this morning. Bill Weir joins me.