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Increased Property Tax Exemptions Lead to Refunds for Thousands in Cook County

By Gary Smith
Increased Property Tax Exemptions Lead to Refunds for Thousands in Cook County

Property tax time in Cook County usually brings dire news of property tax hikes for homeowners opening the mail, but for about 53,000 homeowners, this year could bring a payday.

Approximately $19.5 million will be returned to homeowners because of changes in exemptions or property tax benefits for the bill that was due in August. The refunds were part of a recently passed legislative package in which the Illinois General Assembly increased property tax exemptions for homeowners and senior citizens.

Important Dates for Refunds

For the 36,000 homeowners who paid online or by check, the refund should have been credited to their bank account or credit card accounts already, dated Aug. 15. For homeowners who paid through their mortgage or escrow account, the refund check will be mailed by Oct. 15. The 2,000 homeowners who paid in cash will receive a refund application by Aug. 15. This is to ensure to right party receives the refund dollars.

The exemptions impacted include the homestead exemption for owner-occupied homes and the senior homestead exemption for owner-occupied homes in which at least one owner is 65 or older. Homeowners who qualify for the senior homestead exemption might qualify for both exemptions, doubling their refund.

There was a change to one other exemption in the legislation, which provided a bigger break for low-income seniors by altering the senior freeze exemption.

The average homeowner’s exemption increase will range from $226 in the city to $306 in the suburbs. The average increase to the senior exemption ranges from $224 in the city to $321 in the suburbs.

Homeowners who were to be refunded should have received a letter from the Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas in mid-August. Homeowners can check to see if they’re due a refund by visiting the Cook County Treasurer’s website and clicking the purple box that says, “Your Property Overview.” You will need to enter your address or Property Index Number, or PIN.

Homeowners who feel that their property tax bill is too high can appeal their assessment to the Cook County Assessor’s Office or the Cook County Board of Review.