It is not often that money just shows up in a person’s bank account, but with the assistance of technology, the Cook County Treasurer’s Office has refunded about $8.3 million to nearly 30,000 homeowners automatically, rather than have them fill out an application.
Tax Refunds a Result of Overpayments
The property tax refunds are the result of tax overpayments made since 2013. The Treasurer’s Office was able to use bank, credit card and property records to determine who has made an overpayment to eliminate the application process.
Previously, homeowners had to be proactive and check the Cook County Treasurer’s website to see if there were refunds listed under their Property Index Number (PIN) and then fill out an application to receive those dollars. The Treasurer’s Office has eliminated the application part of the process and is instead just issuing the refunds.
Overpayments occur for many reasons, but most often because of a reduction in property taxes after the bill was paid. For instance, the value of the homestead and senior citizen property tax exemptions for Cook County increased by $3,000 in 2018. In addition, the value of the senior freeze programs also increased, so low-income seniors should receive sizable refunds.
Because the first installment of the property taxes is based on 55 percent of the previous year’s tax bill, the previous year’s tax bill used the old exemption values when calculated. The new exemption amounts were applied to the second tax bill installment; however, many homeowners had paid already.
In the suburbs, the average savings for the homestead exemption is $1,202 and the average savings for the senior exemption is $961, according to the treasurer’s office.
In the Cook County townships in the northwest suburbs that covers Hanover, Schaumburg, Elk Grove, Wheeling, Palatine, Maine and Leyden, the refund average was around $400.
Homeowners who paid taxes through a bank or mortgage escrow accounts are receiving checks in the mail. Homeowners that paid property taxes online or by check are receiving a refund directly to their bank or credit card accounts.
Homeowners can check to see if their property is entitled to a refund by visiting the Cook County Treasurer’s website. On the website, they should click on the purple box that says “Your Property Overview” and enter either the property’s address or the Property Index Number.