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Illinois Counties are Offering a Variety of Tax Relief Policies

By Gary Smith
Illinois Counties are Offering a Variety of Tax Relief Policies

With the COVID-19 pandemic, residential and commercial property owners have concerns about paying the property tax bill that will be sent this summer.

How Counties are Handling Property Tax Bills

On the commercial property side, there is concern that rent collection has stalled because of the businesses or renters’ inability to pay and covering the taxes without that income could be problematic.

In May, Cook County officials announced that although the second installment of the 2019 tax bill will still go out on Aug. 3, there is a plan to halt interest fees and late fees until Oct. 1, with any payment being made by that date considered on time.

Homeowners will also receive that extension. According to the Cook County Treasurer’s office, 92 percent of first installment were paid on time at the beginning of March, but it does not expect that percentage to be so high for the second installment.

Under Illinois law, areas under a disaster declaration can waive fees and change due dates on property taxes. All 102 counties in Illinois are considered disaster areas by both the state and federal governments because of COVID-19, but not all counties are exercising the right to delay due dates.

The Lake County Board, for instance, decided not to provide additional time for residents to pay property taxes citing feedback from communities that the tax delay would have a negative impact on their financial situation.

The Kane County Board has delayed late fees on payments due June 1 as long as the bills are paid by July 1. That break will not apply to payments done through a third party, such as payments placed in escrow through a mortgage lender.

McHenry County is providing homeowners with a 90-day extension on late fees and interest similar to Cook County. Similar to Kane County, this won’t apply to payments through a third party.

DuPage County is suspending interest and late feed for 90 days, but residents must demonstrate that they have suffered financial hardship as a direct result of COVID-19.

One suggestion floated is that Illinois could use its emergency borrowing powers to finance a statewide delay in commercial property taxes until at least Oct. 1, to allow for local governments to still receive needed revenue through the loan and allow small businesses time to recover from the statewide shutdown.