Cook County homeowners may take advantage of several valuable property-tax-saving exemptions. There are currently four exemptions that must be applied for or renewed annually: The Homeowner Exemption, Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption, Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Exemption, and the Home Improvement Exemption.
1. Homeowner Exemption
Taxpayers whose single-family home, townhouse, condominium, co-op or apartment building (up to six units) is their primary residence can save $250 to $2,000 per year, depending on local tax rates and assessment increases. First-time applicants must have been the occupant of the property as of January 1 of the tax year in question.
The Cook County Assessorâ€™s Office now automatically renews Homeowner Exemptions for properties that were not sold to new owners in the last year.
In neighborhoods where assessments have increased sharply, this exemption also now can help buffer the reassessment and be worth as much as $2,000 ($20,000 in Equalized Assessed Value multiplied by the local tax rate).
This program is administered by the Cook County Assessor's Office. New owners should apply to:
Cook County Assessor's Office
118 North Clark Street, Room 320
Chicago, IL 60602
You may find applications and additional information at: http://www.cookcountyassessor.com
2. Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption
Seniors can save up to $250 a year in property taxes, and up to $750 when combined with the Homeowner Exemption. For the 2012 tax year, the applicant must have owned and occupied the property as of January 1, 2012 and must have been 65 years of age or older during the year for which you are applying.
3. Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Exemption
Qualified senior citizens can apply for a freeze of the assessed value of their property. Over time, in many areas, this program results in taxes changing minimally and often decreasing as surrounding properties continue to rise in assessed value. This is the most valuable homeowner exemption program. The value increases over the years as it eliminates the impact of regular reassessment increases that may occur every three years.
For the 2012 tax year, the applicant must have owned and occupied the home on January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012 and have been responsible for the 2011 and 2012 taxes.
4. Home Improvement Exemption
Homeowners can make up to $75,000 worth of property improvements without an increase in property taxes for at least four years. The value varies depending on the reduction of the assessed value and the tax rates where the property is located.
There are also several state and city programs now available.
Senior Citizen Tax Deferral
The household income limit to participate in this program has increased to $55,000. This program works like a loan from the State of Illinois to qualified senior citizens, with an annual interest rate of 6%. Any portion or all (up to $5,000 per year) of the tax may be deferred until the house is sold or until the death of the taxpayer. To apply, contact the Cook County Treasurer's Office at 312.443.5100.
Disabled Veteran Homestead Exemption
Administered through the Illinois Department of Veteran's Affairs. Call 312.814.2460
Property tax calculations in Cook County are byzantine, at best, but there is some information on the Assessor's web site that might be of use to you. Start with this article:
It talks about property tax calculations in general. Also, there's a sample calculation of property tax:
But my colleague is correct in saying that there's no set amount you will receive. It all depends on the "market value" assigned by the Assessor and the resulting "Equalized Assessed Valuation" amount. Take a look at the links above to get some idea of how your bill will look.
Remember, you can challenge your Equalized Assessed Valuation once per year if you think your taxes have been miscalculated. You may present evidence yourself, or you may allow the Assessor's office to review information for you. See "Appeals" section of the Assessor's web site for more information.
Don Pasek, CIPS, TRC, ADPR
Omniterra Real Properties
Every homeowner should make sure they get all the exemptions they are entitled to. It is a long list, including senior, senior freeze on the assessment, disabled, home improvement, disabled veteran and homeowner. Walking into the local Township Tax Assessor office is an easy way to get help.
My colleagues are absolutely correct., there is no simple calculation. However, if you feel you property has devalue since the last tax bill you can appeal the taxes for a lower rate and receive your homeowner exemption.