Receiving a quarterly property tax notice can be a worrisome event for many residential and commercial property owners in Chicago. In 2021, Cook County property taxes were the second highest in the nation.
This quarter, many property owners will be in suspense while the county works to resolve an internal dispute which has created a potential delay for property tax bills. The Cook County Clerk and Treasurer have asserted that they will not issue bills unless the Assessor addresses a potential oversight in 2020.
What is the reason for the controversy?
There is concern that the county extended a 2020 Senior Assessment Freeze Exemption to individuals who exceeded the program’s income limits and did not actually qualify. The Assessor’s office maintains that it routinely audits these exemptions.
Clerk Karen Yarbrough and Treasurer Maria Pappas demanded that the Assessor sign a document affirming there was a review. Assessor Fritz Kaegi has refused because he has no obligation to sign.
Can the county withhold bills?
The Cook County State’s Attorney issued an opinion letter that the Clerk and Treasurer must send out bills because it is a requirement of their position. The office of the County’s Board President told reporters that is a plan to introduce an amendment extending the tax due date to October 1.
It is important to assure that all exemptions that the county grants are compliant with applicable terms. A few instances of fraud can affect what everyone pays. Nevertheless, delaying the issuance of property tax bills could negatively impact various county departments that rely on this revenue to operate.