As many as 31,000 senior citizens in Cook County may be eligible for the Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption and as many as 21,000 senior citizens may qualify for the Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Exemption.
Available Tax Exemptions
Property tax exemptions lower property taxes by reducing the equalized assessed value (EAV) of the property. In Illinois, counties must equalize property tax assessments so that the median level of assessment is 33 percent of fair market value. Cook County assesses residential property at 10 percent of fair market value; therefore, the county’s equalization factor is 3, which is then multiplied by a property’s assessed value.
Tax exemptions help homeowners save money by reducing a home’s assessment dollar amount, which reduces the overall property tax bill.
The Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption decreases the taxable value of homes by an additional $8000 in EAV, which could provide a savings of up to $300 a year in property taxes for those who meet the following criteria:
- Own and occupy the property in question as of January 1 of the same year
- Be 65 years old or older during the tax year in question
This tax exemption may also be combined with the Homeowner Exemption, which could combine for a savings of up to $750 a year. Although the Homeowner Exemption is an automatically renewable tax credit, the Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption is one for which a homeowner must re-apply every year.
Seniors also have another option, the Senior Freeze Exemption. This exemption is limited to those 65 and older with an annual household income of $65,000 or less. This exemption alleviates the impact of regular reassessment increases that may occur every three years by freezing the home the EAV; therefore, the value fluctuates. To remain eligible for this exemption, an applicant must have owned and occupied the property in question for both the current and previous tax year. This is another exemption for which seniors must reapply every year.
The Homeowner Exemption, which can be combined with either of the two senior exemptions, reduces the taxable EAV of a home by $10,000. In order to qualify, a homeowner must have owned and occupied the residence as of Jan. 1 of that tax year. As mentioned previously, this exemption automatically renews until a homeowner sells the house.