online
Editio
n
WEST SUBURBAN
Home
online
Edition
Weekly News
WEST SUBURBAN JOURNAL
You need Java to see this applet.
By COMMUNITY EDITOR

Been taking multiple exemptions on the tax bill for your house? Time is running out on
the amnesty Period to repay those “mistakes.”
 
Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios is encouraging residents who have received
erroneous property tax exemptions to take advantage of the amnesty period that allows
taxpayers to report and pay back the erroneous savings without penalties or interest.

After December 31, 2013, the Assessor’s office will investigate erroneous exemptions
that have gone unreported and require the taxpayer to pay additional fees and interest
on their savings or face civil or criminal prosecution.
  
“If someone has been getting an erroneous exemption, now is the time to come
forward and correct the situation during the amnesty period,” Berrios said.  “I want to
make sure taxpayers are all paying their fair share of property taxes, no more and no
less.”  
 
In Illinois, a person is allowed to collect an exemption only on the home that is his or
her primary residence in the United States. A new law initiated by Assessor Berrios and
approved by Governor Quinn will give Cook County the means to recoup funds from
those who have improperly received homeowner, senior, disabled persons’ or disabled
veterans’ exemptions. The law requires an amnesty period to allow taxpayers who
wrongly claimed one or two erroneous exemptions to repay the savings by the end of
the year. Those who claimed three or more exemptions in error are not eligible for
amnesty.
 
Assessor Berrios proposed the measure shortly after taking office when his
administration noticed a high volume of e-mails and anonymous phone calls reporting
that people were improperly receiving exemptions. In the vast majority of those cases,
the claims were proven to be true. Since taking effect on July 1, 2013, the Assessor’s
Office has billed over $1 million for erroneous exemption savings received by taxpayers.
 
“The success of the amnesty program in the last three months has illustrated just how
much this new law was needed,” Berrios said. “Prior to this law, we had no means to
recover the money taxpayers unfairly received and nothing to deter them from claiming
erroneous exemptions in the future.”
 
Taxpayers may visit the Assessor’s web site at www.cookcountyassessor.com to
obtain additional information regarding the amnesty period and how to report
erroneous exemption savings they have received.  The Web site also allows taxpayers
to anonymously report erroneous exemptions they may be aware of to ensure that all
taxpayers pay their fair share.
 
Notice of the amnesty was provided in the second-installment tax bills that were mailed
in July and was also published in area newspapers.  The $1,000,000, once collected,
will be returned to local taxing bodies such as schools and local governing taxing
bodies.  
  
“At a time when schools and local municipalities are severely struggling with budget
issues, it will be helpful for this money to go back to serving the community.” Berrios
said. “This new law will not only have a dramatic and positive impact on schools and
other local taxing bodies but will also greatly benefit taxpayers throughout the county.”


Time running out on amnesty
period to repay erroneous
property tax exemption
savings