Law provides property tax savings





by BRIAN NADIG

A new state law will provide Cook County homeowners an estimated $250 to $700 in savings on their annual property tax bill, with higher savings for seniors, according to state Representative Robert Martwick (D-19).

"That is important property tax relief," Martwick said at the Sept. 26 meeting of the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association. "Make sure you fill out your homeowner’s exemption card."

Martwick, who was the main sponsor of the bill in the Illinois House, said that Governor Bruce Rauner signed the legislation in late August with little fanfare. Senator John Mulroe (D-10), who also spoke at the association’s meeting, co-sponsored the bill in the Illinois Senate.

The legislation lowers the taxable, or equalized assessed, value of a home by $10,000 for those owners who live in the house and apply for the exemption. The previous exemption was $7,000.

Seniors age 65 and older can receive an additional exemption, and it is increased from $5,000 to $8,000 under the law.

The law also expands eligibility for the senior freeze exemption, increasing the household income limitation for seniors from $55,000 to $65,000.

This exemption freezes the taxable value of the home at the time an eligible senior applies for the exemption, and under the new law, seniors are guaranteed a minimum $2,000 reduction in the equalized assessed value of their home.

Martwick said that the minimum reduction is important because it will provide immediate tax relief for seniors since the freeze is intended to only provide relief once the assessed value of the property starts to increase. He said that a home’s taxable value could remain the same for several years, as the county reassesses properties every 3 years.

The exemption changes are estimated to save seniors, veterans and the disabled between $500 and $1,600 a year on their property tax bills, Martwick said.

The Cook County’s Assessor’s Office cautions that exemptions do not affect the rates levied by each taxing body and that an owner’s property tax bill could increase despite any new exemption that lowers a home’s taxable value. However, without the exemptions, the bill would be even higher.