SPRINGFIELD-Gov. Pat Quinn Tuesday signed into law a measure to save Cook County seniors up to $240 on their next property tax bills, with more modest savings built in for younger homeowners.
The legislation will raise exemptions this year from $4,000 to $5,000 annually for Cook County seniors 65 years and older who pay real estate taxes. The so-called senior homestead exemption will rise by the same amount next year for seniors in other parts of the state.
The increased exemptions are estimated to create annual savings for seniors of $110 in Chicago, $150 in the north suburbs and $240 in the south suburbs, the Cook County Assessor’s office said.
“When you’re a homeowner you have a stake in the neighborhood,” Quinn said Tuesday at the signing ceremony on Chicago’s southwest side. “For most of us, the biggest investment we’re ever going to make in our whole life is buying a house or buying a condo. It’s very, very important that we make sure our property tax system doesn’t get out of control and end up taxing people out of their homes.”
The first of its kind since 2007, the increased exemption intends to ease the blow of a 7-percent homeowner exemption cap aimed at providing assistance from rising home values that is set to expire in Chicago on the second installment of bills this summer.
“This legislation will offset this loss by increasing the savings currently received from the homeowner and senior exemptions,” Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios said Tuesday.
The new law – which cleared the House on April 11 by a 109-2 vote after passing unanimously in the Senate – will also save younger taxpayers money. The exemption for non-senior Cook County residents will rise from $6,000 to $7,000 annually and is estimated to save homeowners $55 in Chicago, $75 in the north suburbs and $120 in the south suburbs per year, the assessor’s office said.
Chicago homeowners will start to see savings on their second-installment bills this summer when the 7-percent savings expire. And suburban homeowners on the north and south sides will see similar savings in 2014 and 2015, respectively, when the 7-percent exemption sunsets for them.
“This new legislation is a significant achievement, but there is still much work to be done,” Berrios said.