Senior Exemption Will Renew Automatically Next Year

Cook County property owners who have already applied for and received a senior exemption will have one less chore next year under a law that makes the exemption automatic for property owners 65 and older.

In the past, the senior exemption had to be renewed annually, a task that the Cook County Treasurer’s Office found was overlooked by more than 25,000 of the county’s approximately 740,000 eligible seniors.

Under the law that went into effect this year, eligible seniors will only have to apply for the exemption once and it will auto renew annually. The exemption can reduce a homeowner’s property tax bill by an average of $300 a year as it reduces the property’s equalized assessed value by $8,000.

“Seniors in Cook County will no longer be burdened with the need to reaffirm their age each year,” said Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi when the law was passed. Kaegi had pushed for the law as one of the pledges undertaken when he took office in January.

The law applies to eligible property owners in any Illinois county with a population of 3 million or more. Seniors are also eligible for the standard homeowner exemption which, on average, reduces the property tax bill by an additional $400.

Are You Eligible for the Senior Exemption?

The senior exemption is open to property owners aged 65 and up. Those who turned 65 in 2019 will have to apply for the exemption but will have it automatically renewed as long as they are in their home.

To qualify for the senior exemption:

  • Homeowners need to be 65 years old and up
  • The home needs to be the principal place of residence as of Jan. 1 of the tax year in question
  • There are no income requirements

Seniors to Benefit from Law Targeting “Unnecessary Bureaucracy”

The previous law requiring seniors to apply annually was put into place because many houses owned by seniors are sold or are passed on to ineligible owners. But lawmakers decided to shift the burden to the assessor’s office instead of requiring seniors to refile year after year.

“This new law will benefit seniors, especially those living on fixed income, by doing away with unnecessary bureaucracy and continuing to provide stable relief,” Illinois House Assistant Majority Leader Fred Crespo said in a statement. Crespo sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives and Sen. Laura Ellman and Sen. Bill Cunningham co-sponsored it in the Senate.

Under the new law, the Cook County Assessor’s Office will be required to audit senior exemptions at least every three years.

Seniors with household incomes of $65,000 or less may be eligible for additional property tax deductions under the Senior Freeze Exemption, which is designed to offset increases in assessed value for seniors on fixed incomes. The senior freeze exemption requires the completion of an annual application.

Get Help Finding Additional Property Tax Savings

Homeowners may be able to obtain additional savings by appealing the assessed value of their homes. An appeal is the only way to be sure that you are not paying too much. At Kensington, we have decades of experience in analyzing the county assessment data to make the strongest possible case for reducing your assessment.

If you think you may be paying too much in property taxes, give us a call or click on the link below for a free, no obligation analysis of your property tax situation. We have a long track record of helping thousands of Cook County property owners save tens of thousands of dollar in property taxes. If you hire us to assist with an appeal, you pay nothing unless you win.

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