Feb
08

Alert for Senior Chicago Real Estate Owners

February 08, 2011

Senior Chicago real estate owners should be aware of a new Illinois law that could affect the second installment of their property tax bills.

Starting this year, senior citizens who own homes in Cook County must now reapply annually to get a reduction in their property taxes.

To be sure senior homeowners become aware of the new law, the Cook County Assessor’s office has sent out almost 300,000 applications to taxpayers who received a senior exemption last year.

Senior couple in front of a houseBut Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios is afraid some homeowners will think the envelope, which includes applications for the Senior Citizen and Senior Freeze Exemptions, is just junk mail and throw it away.

“It’s critical in the coming days that seniors watch for the Senior Citizen Exemption application in the mail,” Assessor Berrios said. “They will owe more on their property tax bills if they fail to fill out this very important application. I don’t want anyone to miss out on their right to save money.”

The Senior Citizen Exemption offers tax relief by reducing the equalized assessed value of an eligible residence. The savings come as a deduction on the homeowner’s second-installment property tax bill.

To qualify for the Senior Citizen Exemption for the taxable year 2010, homeowners must have:

*Been born in 1945 or earlier

*Owned the property, or have a lease or contract that makes them responsible for the real estate taxes

*Used the property as a principal place of residence

In addition, seniors on limited incomes may also qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption, which freezes the equalized assessed value of their property.

To qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption for the taxable year 2010, taxpayers must have:

*Been born in 1945 or earlier

*A total household income of $55,000 or less for income tax year 2009

*Owned the property or had a legal, equitable or leasehold interest in the property on January 1, 2009 and January 1, 2010

*Used the property as a principal place of residence as of January 1, 2009 and January 1, 2010

*Been liable for the payment of 2009 and 2010 property taxes

“It is important for seniors to re-apply for their exemptions so that they do not miss out in the savings that are due to them” Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman said.

“It is unfortunate that it is necessary to send these notices to our senior citizens each year, and I look forward to the General Assembly passing legislation that will make this process less confusing and more convenient.”

If you don’t receive the application in the mail but think you are entitled to the exemption, you can download the forms at cookcountyassessor.com.

Residents can also call (312) 443-7550 or 3-1-1 for more information.

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