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Cook County to delay property tax late fees
Taxpayers to get a two-month break.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business
by Greg Hinz

Cook County made it official today, announcing that late-payment interest penalties will be waived for two months on billions of dollars of second-half property-tax bills.

The action means that bills normally due Aug. 3 can be paid as late as Oct. 1 without running up charges.

Officials expect that many and perhaps most payments will be made on time, since homeowners pay monthly into escrowed accounts held by their mortgage company, as I reported yesterday. But the action still will provide some relief for some who are financially struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These are incredibly difficult times for our residents and this measure creates much-needed breathing room for Cook County property owners,” County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement.

Preckwinkle took pains in her release to include quotes from a wide range of other county officials, including Treasurer Maria Pappas, Assessor Fritz Kaegi, Clerk Karen Yarbrough and Board of Review Chairman Mike Cabonargi.

In fact, though, there has been some internal jostling over exactly what can be done to help individual taxpayers without making too much difficulty for the 2,200 jurisdictions that receive the money. Both Pappas and Cabonargi have been pushing particularly hard for the type of action announced today.

Most of the five suburban collar counties have taken similar steps. Other action could be taken by the General Assembly, though the local officials may have beaten state lawmakers to the punch.

Kaegi is considering a different kind of relief: lowering property valuations on which taxes are based, because COVID harmed the real estate market and driven down property values. But the earliest that could kick in on bills due next year.

The ordinance providing the relief will be presented to the Cook County Board at its next full meeting, slated for May 21, the release says.



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