2019 Chicago Real Estate Tax Exemptions

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 2019.

You can check your tax bill or go to cookcountytreasurer.com to confirm that you are receiving your exemptions.

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. For further assistance, call Taxpayer Services Department at (312) 443-7550. If you have never received a Homeowner Exemption on your home, you will need to apply for one. Exemption forms may be obtained by calling or visiting one of the Assessor’s Office locations or your local township assessor.

Please Note: A new law expands the Homeowner Exemption savings this year from $7,000 to $10,000 in Equalized Assessed Value (EAV). It is important to note that the exemption amount is not the dollar amount by which a tax bill is lowered. EAV is the partial value of a property to which tax rates are applied; it is this figure on which a tax bill is calculated.

A Homeowner Exemption is calculated by multiplying the Homeowner Exemption savings amount ($10,000) by your local tax rate. Your local tax rate is determined by the Cook County Clerk and can be found on your second-installment tax bill or by contacting the Cook County Clerk’s Office at 312- 603-6566.

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;

  1. You must either own the property or have a lease or contract which makes you responsible for the real estate taxes; and

  2. 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 a :

    • Senior Citizen Exemption application form,

    • closing or settlement statement,

    • copy of a recent property tax bill, and

    • copy of proof of age and residency.

    Please Note: A new law expands the Senior Exemption savings this year from $5,000 to $8,000 in Equalized Assessed Value (EAV). It is important to note that the exemption amount is not the dollar amount by which a tax bill is lowered. EAV is the partial value of a property to which tax rates are applied; it is this figure on which a tax bill is calculated.

    A Senior Exemption is calculated by multiplying the Senior Exemption savings amount ($8,000) by your local tax rate. Your local tax rate is determined by the Cook County Clerk and can be found on your second-installment tax bill or by contacting the Cook County Clerk’s Office at 312- 603-6566.

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 2018 will have the EAV of the property frozen at the 2017 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 2018, you must meet all of these requirements:

  • Be 65 years of age of older in 2018,

  • Have a total gross household income of no more than $65,000 for 2017,

  • Own the property, or have a legal, equitable or leasehold interest in the property on January 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018,

  • Be liable for the payment of 2017 and 2018 property taxes, and

  • Use the property as a principal place of residence on January 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018.

Please Note: A recent law expands eligibility for the Senior Freeze Exemption this year by increasing the allowable total household income to $65,000, from the previous limit of $55,000. There is also a new minimum $2,000 EAV deduction for the Senior Freeze, which will help offset increases in assessed value and help ensure that more seniors benefit from the Senior Freeze Exemption.

It is important to note that the exemption amount is not the dollar amount by which a tax bill is lowered. EAV is the partial value of a property to which tax rates are applied; it is this figure on which a tax bill is calculated.The Assessor does not set tax rates.

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 Occupant Homeowner Exemption enables you to receive an expanded Homeowner Exemption with no maximum exemption amount.

Requirements for the Longtime Occupant Homeowner Exemption for Tax Year 2018 state that you must have

  • Owned and occupied your residence from January 1, 2008 to January 1, 2018

  • A total household income of $100,000 or less for income tax year 2016 and

  • An assessment increase for your property that was significant enough to exceed the maximum amounts set by the state legislature.

Applications were mailed early this year to those properties which qualified.

Please note: Of the over 1.5 million residential properties in Cook County, only less than two percent (2%) qualified for the Longtime Occupant Homeowner Exemption last year. This is due to the way the state legislature wrote the provision and the requirements they put in place in order to qualify.

Simply put, would-be savings from the Longtime Occupant Homeowner 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.

The Cook County Assessor’s Office wants all homeowner/occupants to receive the maximum exemption savings to which they are entitled. If we calculate that the Longtime Occupant Homeowner Exemption would provide the most savings for a home, we automatically mail an application.

If you wonder if an application should have been mailed to you, please call the Cook County Assessor’s Office at 312-443-7550 and they will double-check your qualifications and which exemption(s) will get you the most savings.

Please note: Properties not eligible to receive this exemption are automatically eligible to receive the full benefits of the standard Homeowner Exemption.

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 they compete 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 ornamentation

·         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

Active Military

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 Veterans Affairs are eligible for this annual exemption. It reduces by certain amounts the Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) on a disabled veteran's primary residence, very likely lowering the tax bill.

It is very important to note that the Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) is not the amount of your taxes. The EAV is only the partial property value on which your taxes are computed; any reduction in EAV is not the dollar amount by which your tax bill may be lowered.

This annual exemption is now greatly expanded. Beginning with Tax Year 2015 (billed and paid in 2017), veterans whose level of disability is as little as 30% are eligible for a deduction from the EAV of their primary residence. The amounts of those EAV deductions range from $2,500 to $5,000. Also, for the first time, veterans 70% or more disabled are totally exempt from property taxes.

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.

To qualify the veteran must be:

  • an Illinois resident who has served as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, Illinois National Guard or U.S. Reserve Forces,

  • be returning from active duty in an armed conflict involving the armed forces of the U.S.,

  • owned or had a legal or equitable interest in the property and used it as a principal place of residence on January 1, 2018 and

  • be liable for the payment of property taxes. 

Veterans must complete the exemption application with the CCAO and:

  • If a veteran is discharged from active duty service, he or she will need to provide the Department of Defense DD Form 214 certified by the County Recorder or Recorder of Deed’s or the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

  • If a veteran is still on active duty after returning home, they will need to provide military orders and a travel voucher showing the date of his or her return.  The documents must state that they are returning from armed conflict involving the armed forces of the U.S. within the tax year that they are requesting the exemption.

Please Note: This exemption may be received in addition to any of the other exemptions.

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.

To qualify the applicant must be:

  • disabled or become disabled during the Tax Year,

  • own or have a legal or equitable interest in the property, or a leasehold interest of a single-family residence,

  • occupy the property as the principal residence on January 1, 2018 and

  • be liable for the payment of property taxes.

If a person’s home previously received the Disabled Persons Homeowner Exemption and the taxpayer now resides in a facility licensed under the Nursing Home Care Act, his or her home is still eligible to receive this exemption provided:

  • the property is occupied by that person's spouse, or

  • the property remains unoccupied.

Applicants must complete the exemption application with the Cook County Assessors Office and must provide one of the following documents:

  • Class 2 Disabled Person Illinois Identification Card from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office

  • Proof of Social Security Administration disability benefits. This proof includes an award letter, verification letter, or annual cost of living adjustment

  • Proof of Veterans’ Administration disability benefits.  This proof includes an award letter of total (100%) disability, pension statement, or statement showing compensation rated at 100%.

  • Proof of Railroad or Civil Service disability benefits is an award letter of total (100%) disability.

If a taxpayer can not provide proof with one of the items listed above they will need to submit the Illinois Department of Revenue’s Form PTAX 343-A Physician’s Statement of Proof of a Disability. The taxpayer may also be required to be re-examined by an IDOR designated physician.

Please Note: This exemption cannot be received with the Disabled Veterans’ Standard Homeowner Exemption.

You may find applications and additional information at: cookcountyassessor.com

Source: Cook County Treasurer’s Office and Cook County Assessor’s Office

 

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