Illinois program lets senior citizens defer up to $7,500 per year in property taxes
Your Property Taxes column with Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas
By Maria Pappas
Illinois offers senior citizens a property tax relief program that works like a loan. The Senior Citizens Real Estate Tax Deferral program allows qualifying seniors to defer up to $7,500 per year in property taxes.
The loan is repaid to the state when the property is sold or upon the death of the participant. March 1 is the last day to apply for the program and seek deferral for 2023 taxes that will be due in 2024.
Qualifying participants must be:
Homeowners who are age 65 or older by June 1;
Applicants with household income of $65,000 or less;
People who have owned and occupied the qualifying property for at least the past three years.
Surviving spouses of previously approved applicants who are 55 or older within six months of the taxpayer’s death are eligible for the program. Applicants must have fire or casualty insurance for the qualifying property and must not owe outstanding property taxes or special assessments.
To apply, seniors must submit forms available on the Treasurer’s website at cookcountytreasurer.com. Applications also are available at the Treasurer’s Office in the County Building at 118 N. Clark St., Chicago. Applicants must submit copies, not originals, of required documents that include proof of birth date and proof of home ownership.
By law, the state prohibits extensions beyond the March 1 deadline to apply. The state charges 3% interest per year payable upon death of the taxpayer or when ownership of the home transfers to a different owner. Participants may choose to pay off the loan sooner.
Additional requirements apply when a home is held in a trust. Visit cookcountytreasurer.com to learn more.
The state of Illinois pays the taxes that are deferred by program participants. The 3% interest rate charged for 2023 taxes due in 2024 is half the rate charged in previous years when the state charged 6% interest.
Additional changes that recently took effect increased the household income eligibility threshold to $65,000 from $55,000 and the amount able to be deferred to $7,500 from $5,000. Illinois lawmakers approved the changes in 2022.
You can also visit cookcountytreasurer.com to download a copy of your tax bill and pay the First Installment of your 2023 taxes that are due March 1. From the homepage, click on the purple box that says Your Property Tax Overview. When you search for your bill using your address or Property Index Number, a picture of your property should appear.
The website is a convenient alternative to visiting the Treasurer’s Office in person or paying your tax bill by mail. You may use the website to pay your tax bill electronically, to find out if a refund is available because of previous overpayments or missed exemptions and to discover many other services.
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