WGN-TV Show Notes – October 7, 2004

It seems like good news: 80 percent of Chicago homeowners will owe less than expected on their property tax bills due out next week. But not everyone will get a big tax break and some homeowners will even pay more than they expect.

If you’re already planning what you’re going to do with your property tax windfall, you might want to hold off until you actually get your property tax bill next week. In addition to the 20 percent of Chicago homeowners who will be hit with a tax increase, the City of Chicago says homeowners who haven’t filed for their exemptions will also see their property taxes go up. And there could be as many as 30,000 homeowners who have fallen off the homeowner exemption rolls.

The 7 percent property tax cap caught this for the next 3 years, but if they don’t renew that cap, your taxes are going to skyrocket because in 2006 they’re going to reassess again.

If you’re hoping your property taxes will go down when you get your bill next week, you’d better be sure you’ve applied for your homeowners exemption and — if you qualify for them, the senior homestead exemption and the senior freeze exemption. The problem is, most homeowners don’t realize if you don’t apply each year, you fall off the rolls.

“Right now, the homeowner exemption is being grandfathered in for people who have had it for the last two years, but if you didn’t have it for the last two years, and you’ve lived in your home for more than a year, you’re eligible for it,” says Myer Blank, Chicago Tax Assistance Center.

If you don’t file for your exemptions, you can’t qualify for the 7 percent property tax cap that went into effect earlier this year. The 7 percent solution, as it is often called, limits the amount your taxes can increase in a single year to 7 percent. If you don’t file for the homeowner exemption, you could wind up paying thousands of dollars more in property taxes than you otherwise would have.

“For seniors it’s particularly important. For the senior freeze exemption, which is once you turn 65, and your household income is below $40,000, the value of your property doesn’t go up until you transfer your property,” Blank says. “The sooner you get that in, the sooner we can take care of it.”

Over at the Chicago Tax Assistance Center, homeowners can apply for their homeowners exemptions and bring in their bills if they think there is a problem.

“We’re more than happy to explain that to people if you call 3-1-1. The Mayor wants to be certain everyone understand the 7 percent solution and gets all their exemptions,” Blank says.

The Chicago Tax Assistance Center is located at city hall on the first floor. If you have a question, you can also call the city’s non-emergency number 3-1-1 and the tax assistance center will direct you to other resources, including different programs that are available to homeowners who can’t afford to pay next week’s tax bill.


Cook County Assessor’s Office

Chicago Tax Assistance Center
City Hall
Room 100
Email: [email protected]

Call the city’s non-emergency number 311 for more information.

Copyright © 2004, WGN-TV

Oct. 7, 2004.