The City of Chicago, Cook County and The State of Illinois offer home owners a number of property tax exemptions and financial programs.
Please review the list of exemptions and programs below, provided by the Cook County Treasurer’s Office and the Cook County Assessor’s Office. With property taxes rising, it is important that you take advantage of everything that may be available to you in 2018.
Please Note: Some exemptions may be retroactive for up to three years, if you qualified but did not apply.
1. Homeowner Exemption
The Homeowner Exemption provides tax relief by reducing the equalized assessed valuation of an eligible residence.
You can receive the Homeowner Exemption if you own or have a lease or contract which makes you responsible for the real estate taxes of the residential property. It must also be used as your principal place of residence for the year in question.
This exemption will be prorated if you purchased a newly constructed home that was not ready for occupancy until sometime after January 1 of the tax year in question. If you have never received a Homeowner Exemption on your home, you will need to apply for one. (see below)
2. Senior Citizen Exemption
The Senior Citizen Exemption provides tax relief by reducing the equalized assessed valuation of an eligible residence. This savings is in the form of a deduction on the second-installment real estate tax bill.
Senior Citizens receiving the Senior Citizen Exemption automatically qualify for the Homeowner Exemption and do not have to apply for it separately.
State legislators passed a law that states that senior citizens have to reapply annually for the Senior Exemption.
· You must be 65 years of age or older during the tax year for which you are applying.
· You must either own the property or have a lease or contract which makes you responsible for the real estate taxes.
· The property must be your principal residence. If you have moved or plan to move in the future, you may be entitled to a prorated Senior Citizen Exemption, based on the time of occupancy. To apply for a prorated Senior Citizen Exemption you must submit:
o A Senior Citizen Exemption Application Form
o A closing or settlement statement
o Copy of a recent property tax bill
o Copy of proof of age and residency
3. Senior Freeze Exemption
The Senior Freeze Exemption allows qualified senior citizens to apply for a freeze of the equalized assessed value (EAV) of their properties for the year preceding the year in which they first apply and qualify for this exemption. For example, a senior citizen who qualifies and applies for this exemption in taxable year 2017 will have the EAV of the property frozen at the 2016 EAV.
Those who qualify and receive this exemption should be aware that this does not automatically freeze the amount of their tax bill. Only the EAV remains at the fixed amount. The amount of dollars that the taxing districts asks for (levy) may change and thus alter a tax bill.
To qualify for the taxable year 2017, you must meet all of these requirements:
· Be born prior to or in the year 1952,
· Have a total gross household income of no more than $55,000 for 2016,
· Own the property, or have a legal, equitable or leasehold interest in the property on January 1, 2016 and January 1, 2017,
· Be liable for the payment of 2016 and 2017 property taxes, and
· Use the property as a principal place of residence on January 1, 2016 and January 1, 2017.
Those who are currently receiving the Senior Citizen Exemption will automatically receive an application form for the Senior Freeze Exemption.
You must file each year in order to continue to receive the Senior Freeze Exemption and the requirements must be met each year.
4. Longtime Homeowner Exemption
The Longtime Homeowner Exemption enables you to receive an expanded Homeowners Exemption with no maximum exemption amount.
Requirements of the Long Occupant Homeowner Exemption for Tax Year 2017, state that you must have
· Owned and occupied your residence from January 1, 2007 to January 1, 2017
· Had a gross household income of no more than $100,000 for 2016
· An assessment increase for your property that was significant enough to exceed the maximum amounts set by the state legislature.
Those who qualify for the Longtime Homeowner Exemption will automatically receive an application form each year, mailed directly to them.
Please note: Of the over 1.5 million residential properties in Cook County, less than 2% qualified for this exemption last year. This was due to the way the legislature wrote the provision and the requirements they put in place in order to qualify.
Simply put, would -be savings from the Longtime Occupant Homeowners exemption would have to exceed the savings from the Standard Homeowner Exemption. This does not happen for more than 98% of residences in Cook County.
If the Cook County Assessor's Office calculates that the Longtime Occupant Homeowners Exemption would provide the most savings for a home , they will automatically mail an application.
5. Home Improvement Exemption
The Home Improvement Exemption allows you to increase the value of your home with up to $75,000 worth of improvements without increasing your property taxes for at least four years.
The exemption is available to owners of single-family homes, condominiums, cooperatives, and apartment buildings up to six units.
You will automatically receive the exemption when the assessor’s office field checks the building permit for the improvement. A notice will be sent to you after we complete the check.
The Home Improvement Exemption can also be used for repair necessitated by structural damage as a result of severe weather conditions, such as flooding.
The exemption is not granted for loss of personal property, normal weather damage, or routine maintenance. Routine maintenance includes repairs to or replacement of parts that would not increase the value of your property. The following are examples of normal upkeep:
· Repair or replace roofing materials, sidewalks, driveways, or fencing
· Insulate and/or add storm windows and doors
· Add or replace gutters and downspouts
· Place siding over existing frame structure
· Add or improve trees, lawns, and landscaping
· Paint, decorate, plaster, or change exterior ornamentations
· Replace furnace, or replace old heating systems with solar heating
· Replace kitchen cabinets, flooring, fixtures
· Replace or add water softener, or add larger hot water heater
· Add outdoor lighting, burglar or fire alarms
· Replace electrical systems or plumbing fixtures
· Install above-ground swimming pool or outdoor playground facilities
· Add automatic garage door opener
· Add aluminum soffit and facia
These five programs are administered by the Cook County Assessor’s Office and require an application.
You may find more information and applications on these and other exemption programs at cookcountyassessor.com
There are also several specialized programs now available.
Senior Citizen Tax Deferral
The Senior Citizen Real Estate Tax Deferral program is a tax-relief program that works like a loan. It allows qualified seniors to defer a maximum of $5,000 per tax year (this includes 1st and 2nd installments) on their primary home. The loan from the State of Illinois is paid when the property is sold, or upon the death of the participant. You may find additional information at: cookcountytreasurer.com
Military personnel on active duty are eligible to defer the payment of real estate taxes under the provisions of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act, as amended. This deferral extends to taxes becoming due in the period between your active duty and 180 days from the release from active duty. Federal law permits interest on taxes deferred in the amount of 6%per annum instead of the interest and penalties imposed by state law. State law allows the local tax collector to waive the interest. Cook County waives interest for a period of 180 days. You may find additional information at: cookcountytreasurer.com
Disabled Veterans Homeowners Exemption
Veterans with a service connected disability as certified by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs are eligible for this annual exemption. A disability of at least 75 percent is eligible for a $5,000 exemption in equalized assessed value (EAV). A disability of at least 50 percent, but less than 75 percent is eligible for a $2,500 reduction in EAV. You may find applications and additional information at: cookcountyassessor.com
Returning Veterans Exemption
Veterans returning from active duty in armed conflict are eligible to receive a $5,000 reduction in the equalized assessed value of their property only for each taxable year in which they return. You may find applications and additional information at: cookcountyassessor.com
Disabled Persons Exemption
This exemption provides disabled persons with an annual $2,000 reduction in the equalized assessed value (EAV) of the property. You may find applications and additional information at: cookcountyassessor.com
Source: Cook County Treasurer’s Office and Cook County Assessor’s Office