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Cook Co. property taxes sent, up for many

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Property tax bills are out earlier than in recent years, and many Cook County taxpayers are not happy.

For the first time in decades, their bills arrived in the mail before the first of July. Some are seeing a big jump in their taxes.

Because of the holiday and the heat last week, taxpayers delayed their complaining to the Cook County Assessor's Office until this week.

They are finding out there are a few reasons for the high bills. Certain exemptions were not included, or, for many municipalities, tax rates have gone up.

"I have just seen my taxes rise sharply," said Bellwood resident Gadiel Perez. "I've talked to my neighbors and they're kind of steady, so I am just trying to wonder why I am paying more than my neighbors are."

Compared to last year's second installment bill, Perez's taxes have gone up by more than $1,300. Perez got an explanation over the phone, but wanted to talk to someone in person at the Cook County Assessor's Office.

"They are phasing out some sort of program I guess, that offered relief for homeowners, and that's why the tax bill has gone up less of an exemption you get as a homeowner," said Perez.

Perez says he will pay but still appeal. Others have no idea how there are going to pay their bills. Hanan Kiferbaum owes close to $100,000 for a Skokie building he says is only worth $200,000. Kiferbaum says there must be a mistake, but today, he's not getting any relief.

"Yeah, that is what they told me - we'll fix it later, pay it first, so... I got to bring $100,000," said Kiferbaum. "I don't have this money."

The Cook County Assessor's Office says despite the gripes, many in line will get relief because they qualify for one or more of seven exemptions offered. A year-old law requires all senior citizens to reapply for the senior exemption every year. Theodore Jordan walked out owing nothing.

"I'm very happy," said Jordan.

The assessor's office says it is important for all taxpayers to read their property tax bills. The right side lists the exemptions; the left spells out where your money is going.

"They can see that they're paying more for schools, more for parks, more for libraries," said Kelley Quinn, spokesperson for the Cook County Assessor's Office. "The cost to run government has gone up."

The Cook County Assessor's Office says many Chicago residents may see their property taxes decrease next year because the office is in the process of reassessing home values.

Many tax experts say it is important to stay on top of your bill and go into the assessor's office a couple times a year, so someone can explain the bill.



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