Gary H. Smith
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Do You Have Unclaimed Property Tax Refunds or Exemptions?

By Gary Smith
Do You Have Unclaimed Property Tax Refunds or Exemptions?

Many property owners in Cook County may have unclaimed property tax refunds or exemptions. In May, Cook County returned approximately $2.7 million in unclaimed property tax refunds and exemptions and millions more are waiting to be claimed.

How to Claim the Money

The Cook County Treasurer’s Office is sitting on two pots of money that could be refunded to taxpayers. There is one pot worth approximately $44 million in exemptions property owners forgot to apply for, and one for $79 million in overpayments.

To check to see if there is unclaimed money on a property, taxpayers can visit the Cook Country Treasurer’s website, and click on the purple box that says “Your Property Tax Overview.” For unclaimed exemptions, taxpayers can look for “exemption history search.” The application for money back can be filled out there.

Under the same purple “Your Property Tax Overview” button, property owners can also check an address’ overpayment history going back 20 years.

An example of an overpayment can be when the taxes are paid again after closing on a residential property.

In addition, property owners can call the Treasurer’s Office and receive assistance from a team member. There are team members fluent in Spanish, Polish and Chinese, in addition to English.

In terms of exemptions, many residential property owners don’t remember to fill out the form to receive the Homeowner’s Exemption, which is open to residential properties that are the primary residence and can reduce the assessed value by up to $10,000 depending on the local tax rate and income level. This exemption automatically renews after the first year.

Another exemption that is often overlooked is the Senior Citizens Exemption. This is available to homeowners who are 65 and older and can lower the assessed value by $8,000. In addition, homeowners in that same age bracket that have a total household annual income of $65,000 or less in a calendar year can apply for a Senior Freeze Exemption. This exemption freezes the equalized value of the eligible property. Once the paperwork for either or both of these senior exemptions are approved, it automatically renews.

Commercial properties also have special assessments that are available as an incentive for development. The Class 6b incentive, for instance, applies when the property is used mainly for “industrial purposes” and there is either new construction, substantial rehab work done, or re-occupancy of a formerly abandoned property.