SB 685 to make senior, disabled persons, and veterans with disabilities exemptions renew automatically

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information provided by the Cook County Assessor’s Office

COOK COUNTY, Ill. (June 15, 2020) – Last week SB 685 was passed, which automatically renews three homestead exemptions for the next property tax year, among other changes.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put tremendous pressure on Cook County homeowners. We’re pleased to work with the legislature, President Toni Preckwinkle, and the County Board to help at-risk homeowners when they need it most,” said Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi. “We will continue to work with our partners to make our property tax system fairer for everyone.”

SB 685 says that homeowners who get the Persons with Disabilities Exemption, the Veterans with Disabilities Exemption, and the Senior Freeze Exemption will not need to re-apply for them in 2021. Prior to the passage of this bill, homeowners needed to re-apply every year to receive the exemption.

“This bill will benefit tens of thousands of homeowners in Cook County,” said Kaegi. “If the homeowner received any of these three exemptions this year, they will automatically get them again next year.”

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle added, “This legislation will be of huge convenience to our seniors, veterans, and individuals with disabilities by easing the administrative process of homeowner exemptions. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many of these individuals may be at high-risk for the virus.”

The legislature passed a series of COVID-related bills this spring. While there is still work to be done, these bills mark real progress, say the sponsors.

Under the bill, homeowners who received the Persons with Disabilities Exemption, the Veterans with Disabilities Exemption, or the Senior Freeze Exemption on property tax bills due in 2020 will not have to re-apply to receive the exemption on bills due in 2021. If homeowners believe they would get a larger exemption due to a worsening disability, they can re-apply with this additional information.

Homeowners who are newly qualified to receive any of these exemptions but did not receive it in 2020 will need to apply in 2021.

SB 685, signed into law by Gov. Pritzker, also allows smaller counties to delay penalties for late tax payments and to defer tax sales, both of which are steps taken by the Cook County Board before SB 685 passed.

In 2019, the legislature, at Assessor Kaegi’s urging, passed HB 961, which automatically renews the Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption in Cook County. While the Senior Freeze exemption requires proof of income, the Senior Citizen exemption is for any homeowner who is 65 or older.