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Cook County Treasurer urges property owners to pay delinquent taxes

Cook County treasurer's office

The Cook County treasurer's office is issuing more than $8 million in automatic property tax refunds. | Sun-Times

Over 39,000 Cook County homes, businesses and lots could be up for grabs at the county’s annual tax sale in May if the owners don’t pay off their delinquent property tax bills.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas said 39,100 people countywide still owe taxes. The number of past due bills was initially around 52,000, but dropped thanks to the spreading of information about the upcoming sale.

“Every elected official has been given this information and they’ve knocked on doors for us,” Pappas said. “We’ve gotten a lot of reaction that way.”

Pappas’ office has tried to notify delinquent county residents about the May 4 tax sale, but around 16,000 tax bills and notices were returned to sender. That means owners may be unaware of the upcoming tax sale.

If the bills aren’t paid by the start of the sale, real estate investors can bid on the right to buy the overdue taxes. Then they can charge higher interest rates that may make it difficult to pay off the back taxes.

To avoid that, Pappas urged property owners to go to the treasurer’s website to the “your property tax overview” section to see if they owe and pay online before April 30.

People can also pay in person with cash, certified check, cashier’s check or money order.