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Tax Relief for Spouses of Fallen First Responders

By Gary Smith
11/25/2019
Tax Relief for Spouses of Fallen First Responders

As Cook County awaits the verdict on whether there will be another property tax increase, spouses of fallen first responders in Chicago are receiving some tax relief.

Chicago’s City Council approved a new ordinance that provides property tax abatements for the spouses of fallen police officers, firefighters, paramedics, active soldiers, and other first responders who have died in the line of duty.

How the Property Tax Exemption Will Work

Surviving spouses are eligible to apply for the property tax exemptions that would begin with the 2019 bill next year. The exemption would apply only to Chicago’s portion of the property tax bill, which usually comprises 20 to 25 percent of the overall amount. That portion can also only be waived provided the spouse remains unmarried and living in the same home. The savings could be thousands of dollars each year depending on the assessed value of the home. The cost to the city is estimated to be about $10,000 to $15,000 a year.

Chicago was able to offer this exemption because, in 2012, the state of Illinois permitted tax abatements to the families of fallen first responders as long as the local and county governments authorized it. The next step will be for the City of Chicago to work with the Cook County Board of Review to process and vet all tax abatement applications as part of the new law.

This exemption would currently apply to about eight Chicago families at this time.

Other Property Tax Exemptions Available

All homeowners should ensure that they are receiving any of the property tax exemptions available to them, to help lower their property tax bill.

In addition to the exemptions available for veterans, there are others, which include:

  • Primary residence
  • Senior citizens
  • Disabled persons
  • Home improvements

There are also property tax exemptions available for commercial properties, such as the Class 6b incentive that applies when a property is used mainly for industrial purposes and there is either new construction, substantial rehabbing or substantial re-occupancy of a formerly abandoned property.

Cook County usually assesses industrial real estate at about 25 percent of market value. A 6b classification would lower that assessment to 10 percent of market value in the first 10 years, 15 percent in the 11th year and 20 percent in the 12th year.

To receive any exemption, applications must be filed with the Cook County Assessor’s office.