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County wants seniors to confirm they’re still seniors

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Evanston Now
by Charles Bartling

Most seniors, like everyone else, get older every year. But just to ensure that their age has not miraculously gone in reverse, the state requires confirmation in writing before granting a reduction in their property tax.

So Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios’ office has mailed nearly 300,000 applications to seniors who received the exemption last year.

And he’s reminding seniors that state law requires annual renewal in order to continue to receive exemption savings and that the application deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 7.

To qualify for the Senior Citizen Exemption for Tax Year 2017, he says, a taxpayer must have been born in 1952 or before, owned the property during 2017 or have a lease or contract for 2017 which makes them responsible for the real estate taxes, and used the property as his or her principal place of residence in 2017.

In adopting the rule requiring annual confirmation of eligibility for the senior exemption, lawmakers sought to crack down on frauds involving seniors who moved out of their home but still received the tax exemption for which they no longer qualified.

The good news is that a new state law will increase savings this year for the Senior Exemption from $5,000 to $8,000 in Equalized Assessed Value (EAV).

In the booklet being mailed to seniors, there is also an application for the Senior Freeze Exemption that is available to those whose household income for the 2016 tax year was less than $65,000.

The Senior Exemption has no such income limitation, and Berrios expressed concern that “seniors might discard the entire booklet and not receive the Senior Exemption savings to which they are entitled.”

If you failed to receive the application booklet mailed to seniors, you may download a copy from the assessor’s website.

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