Cook County offers two tax exemptions for seniors

Applications for Cook County’s Senior and Senior Freeze Exemption on property taxes for 2018 are due Feb. 6.

The Senior Exemption application is part of a booklet sent to eligible seniors. The booklet also contains the separate, income-based Senior Freeze Exemption application.

The office of Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi has mailed more than 300,000 applications to seniors who received the exemptions last year.  

“It is very important to me as I begin my term as assessor that my office reaches as many seniors as possible to ensure that they continue to receive the exemptions to which they are entitled,” said Kaegi. “No senior in Cook County should be in a position where they are paying more than their fair share.” 

To qualify for the Senior Citizen Exemption for tax year 2018 is open to persons born in 1953 or before. The exemption applies to property they have owned during 2018 or have a lease or contract for in 2018 which makes them responsible for the real estate taxes.  The property must be the person’s principal place of residence in 2018.


The Senior Exemption was increased in 2018 from $5,000 to $8,000 of equalized assessed value (EAV). 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 savings for a Senior Citizen Exemption is calculated by multiplying the exemption savings of $8,000 by the local tax rate. The assessor does not set tax rates.  


The additional tax reduction available is the Senior Freeze Exemption.

To be eligible for this exemption in tax year 2018, a taxpayer must be born in 1953 or before and have a total household income of $65,000 or less during the 2017 tax year. This is an increase from the previous income amount of $55,000.


In addition, the applicant must be the owner of the property or have a legal, equitable or leasehold interest in the property between Jan. 1, 2017, and Jan. 1, 2018; be using the property as a principal residents between those dates; and be liable for property taxes in 2017 and 2018. 

“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 standard Senior Exemption,” Kaegi explained. “The Senior Exemption has no income restrictions and it is important for those seniors who are eligible to apply.”

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 website and download an application or contact the assessor's office at 312-443-7550 to receive a form by mail.

Applications for additional exemptions administered by the assessor's office will be available within the next several weeks.

"Our office will work throughout the year to reach Cook County seniors through our community outreach programs and help seniors with the exemption application process,” Kaegi said.  “We will also be working hard to bring more fairness, ethics and transparency to the property tax assessment system.” 

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