STOPS Program a Gift for Cook County Overpayers

December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Chicago homeowners.

More than $20 million has been returned to Cook County taxpayers who chalked up duplicate property-tax payments on their homes and other properties this year.

Calculator with tax rateAccording to Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, about 7,000 double payments were made on the December 13 tax installment by Cook County homeowners who forgot or didn’t know that their mortgage companies were footing the bill.

Thanks to STOPS, the duplicate payments were intercepted before they were accepted.

“When the taxpayer and the company both pay, the taxpayer has to file for a refund that our office has to process,” Pappas said. “We now can intercept those duplicate payments before they cause further trouble.”

Pappas said her office designed the program STOPS to identify and intercept those double payments made on a tax installment.

“In this economy,” said Pappas, “stopping people from making unnecessary payments is a Christmas gift.”


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Only a politician could return your money to you and then call it a Christmas gift. Pappas has had the capability for years to implement her “stops” program, but never did because the the county and the tax districts benefited from the duplicate payments, and a group of select “refund finder firms,” one even operated by one of her deputy treasurers, made a fortune by “finding” refunds due taxpayers and then keeping 1/3 as a finders fee. Pappas’ deputy obtained the list of duplicate payments without paying a penny, but when another one of her employees downloaded the same file without illegal intentions, she had him prosecuted for official misconduct. Sadly the phrase, “only in Cook County” is getting too familiar.

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