Property Tax Exemption Crackdown Law Sought by Cook County Leaders

Property Tax Exemption Crackdown Law Sought by Cook County Leaders

Under current Illinois property tax laws, homeowners can claim a homestead exemption on their primary residences in order to reduce their property taxes. Unfortunately, WGN Radio reports that many homeowners abuse this exemption by also claiming it on vacation homes, rentals, and second homes. Lawmakers are supporting legislation that would give local authorities power to go after homeowners who have wrongfully claimed the homestead exemption by levying fines and placing liens on properties. Cook County officials estimate that they could collect approximately $154 million in property taxes over the next three years if this legislation passes. Although similar legislation stalled last year, legislators are more optimistic this year because the proposal is a stand-alone bill, rather than an attachment to various pieces of unrelated legislation.

According to a story in the Chicago Tribune last year, potentially thousands of homeowners improperly claim homestead exemptions, including various public officials. This loss of tax revenue for local taxing authorities hurts everyone in the community, as shortfalls in local government are inevitably passed on to taxpayers.

While homeowners should be aware of the rules regarding homestead exemptions, it’s equally important that Cook County businesses are informed on the appropriate tax laws,  to ensure that they are not violating the law. Businesses can potentially face serious penalties should their property, sales, and other taxes not be handled appropriately.  In order to ensure that you are complying with the law, you should consult with a qualified Cook County, Illinois tax attorney if you have any questions about any aspect of Illinois tax law.