(EDITOR’S NOTE: Maria Pappas is Cook County Treasurer. This guest column appears in the Chronicle as an information piece.)
Cook County owes refunds to thousands of property owners because of past overpayments and missed exemptions.
Many homeowners who could use the extra money to pay bills, buy groceries and meet other needs have no idea they are entitled to the funds.
Sheannse Smith recently learned the county owed her $5,233 because of overpayments made for taxes on her late mother’s home in Maywood. The county treasurer’s office helped Smith search for information during a recent Pathways to Cook County event.
Smith’s mother died in 2019. Back in 2003, Smith had overpaid her taxes by $453.
“I wasn’t sure how to obtain the money because she passed,” Smith said during a recent episode of “Black Houses Matter” on WVON-AM 1690 (a weekly radio show hosted by Pappas). Representatives of the treasurer’s office sent Smith the forms she needed to apply for her refund.
Taxpayers may receive refunds for overpayments that occurred up to 20 years ago.
Also, Smith overpaid the taxes on her mother’s home for the 2021 tax year. The reason for the overpayment was common. There was still a mortgage for the property, and the mortgage company paid the taxes from an escrow account. However, a tax bill arrived in the mail and Smith also paid the amount due, which was $4,780.
Smith is using the $5,233 refund to improve the property.
“I’m actually going to put it back into her house,” Smith said. “I’ve been renovating it” and her family will move into the home when renovations are completed.
Cook County residents have received more than $353 million in refunds for overpayments and missed exemptions since the Cook County Treasurer’s Office launched the Black and Latino Houses Matter program in March 2020.
The office can help taxpayers learn whether they are owed some of the $84 million in available property tax refunds for overpayments and check whether they are eligible for $34 million in missing property tax exemptions.
Homeowners may visit the website cookcountytreasurer.com and click on a purple box that says, “Your Property Tax Overview” on the home page. Visitors can search using their address or Property Index Number (PIN) and discover whether they are owed money.
Listeners may tune in to “Black Houses Matter” from 11:30 a.m. to noon Mondays on WVON-AM 1690.