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Frequent fliers may get wish: Property taxes on credit card

Monday, June 06, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times
by Maureen O'Donnell

Air travelers are always looking for ways to get frequent-flier miles, and they've let Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas know it.

That's why Pappas is asking the County Board to examine whether homeowners should be able to use credit cards to pay property tax bills and reap bonus miles.

Consumers "call and they e-mail us and say 'Why can't I pay on my credit card and get miles?'" Pappas said. "And there's some pretty hefty [tax] bills."

Pappas' proposal wouldn't be limited to frequent-flier cards. Credit cards that offer other bonuses -- cash back or points toward a car purchase, for example -- could also be used.

"If you have to pay, why not get something for it?" Pappas said.

Pappas said she'll ask the board to hold a public hearing on whether to give property owners that option.

She plans to submit her request at Tuesday's regular board meeting.

Merchants routinely pay fees for the convenience of customers' use of credit cards. Most likely, Pappas said, a third-party firm other than the credit-card company would charge residents "a small fee" for the option of using the card to pay a tax bill, Pappas said.

No late payments on credit card

If the board supports the idea, she hopes to have this option in place when the next installment of property tax bills goes out this fall.

Pappas said her office would only accept credit cards until the due date for tax bills.

That way, there'll be no question about which entity -- the county, the credit card company, or the third-party processor -- collects late penalties.

"I can't imagine that they would deny this," Pappas said of the board on Sunday. "This is a major request" from consumers.



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