Senior citizens have until Feb. 7 to file their annual renewal for the Senior and Senior Freeze Exemptions on their 2017 property taxes.
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.
To qualify for the Senior Citizen Exemption, a taxpayer must have:
- A birthdate in or prior to 1952
- Owned the property during 2017 or have a lease or contract for 2017 which makes them responsible for the real estate taxes
- Used the property as his or her principal place of residence in 2017
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 lowered, said Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios.
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’s office 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, a taxpayer must have:
- A birthday in or prior to 1952
- A total household income of $65,000 or less for the 2016 income tax year
- Owned the property or had a legal, equitable or leasehold interest in the property on Jan. 1, 2016 and Jan. 1, 2017
- Used the property as his or her principal place of residence as of Jan. 1, 2016 and Jan. 1, 2017
- Been liable for payment of 2016 and 2017 property taxes
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, Berrios said.
“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 are also available online.