Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios announced today that his office has extended the deadline for the Senior Citizen Exemption and Senior Freeze Exemption renewal applications and new applications for Tax Year 2017. The extended application deadline is March 2, 2018. Any application postmarked by Friday, March 2nd will be on time. The original deadline was February 7th.
More than 270,000 applications were mailed in early January to seniors who received the exemptions last year. The Senior Exemption application is part of a booklet that also contains the separate, income-based Senior Freeze Exemption application.
Assessor Berrios conceived and helped pass legislation increasing savings from all exemptions (PLEASE SEE accompanying earlier release). It became law for Tax Year 2017. Tax Year 2017 taxes are billed and mailed in 2018. Savings appear as deductions on Second Installment Property Tax Bills which will be issued this summer.
Assessor has again stressed the importance of returning the applications in a timely manner.
”I extended the deadline so all seniors have extra time to return their applications to ensure they receive the expanded exemption savings this year,” Berrios said. “It is also important to remember that under Illinois law, seniors are required to reapply annually for both the Senior and Senior Freeze Exemptions.”
To qualify for the Senior Citizen Exemption for Tax Year 2017, the property owner must have:
- been born prior to or in the year 1952,
- owned the property, or have a lease or contract which makes them responsible for the real estate taxes, and
- used the property as a principal place of residence.
Please Note: The new law will increase savings this year for the Senior Exemption 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 reduced.
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. The savings for a Senior Citizen Exemption is calculated by multiplying the exemption savings of 8,000 by the local tax rate.
To qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption for Tax Year 2017, taxpayers must have:
- been born prior to or in the year 1952,
- a total household income of $65,000 or less for [income] Tax Year 2016,
- owned the property or had a legal, equitable or leasehold interest in the property on January 1, 2016 and January 1, 2017,
- used the property as a principal place of residence as of January 1, 2016 and January 1, 2017, and
- been responsible for the payment of 2016 and 2017 property taxes.
Please Note: The new law expands eligibility by increasing 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 Exemption.
“If you don’t qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption because you exceed the income level, this does not mean you will not be eligible for the Senior Exemption,” Berrios explained. “The Senior Exemption has no income restrictions and I’m concerned that seniors might discard the entire booklet and not receive the Senior Exemption savings to which they are entitled.”
Seniors receiving the Senior Citizen Exemption automatically receive the Homeowner Exemption. Seniors receiving the Senior Freeze Exemption automatically receive both the Homeowner and Senior Citizen Exemptions.
Eligible seniors, who have never applied for the Senior and/or Senior Freeze Exemptions in the past, may visit the Assessor’s web site at www.cookcountyassessor.com and download an application or contact the Assessor’s Office at 312-443-7550 and request a form be mailed to them. Applications for the Homeowner Exemption and additional exemptions administered by the Assessor’s Office will also be made available on line.
“One of the top concerns I hear through our Community Outreach Program is that seniors are struggling to make ends meet,” Berrios said. “I will continue to work for greater tax relief for seniors to ensure they can stay in their homes without worrying about the affordability of their property taxes.”