On Dec. 19, Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios announced that his office has billed over $2 million dollars since July 1 for erroneous exemption savings received by taxpayers. To date, half of that amount has been paid back to the Treasurer’s Office. Taxpayers have until Dec. 31 to report and pay back all erroneous exemption savings without being charged penalties and interest. Assessor Berrios is encouraging those who have not come forward, or who have come forward but not paid, to take advantage of the amnesty period.
“Time is quickly running out. If someone has been getting an erroneous exemption, now is the time to come forward and correct the situation,” Berrios reminded taxpayers.
By law, a person is allowed to collect an exemption only on the home that is his or her primary residence. A new law initiated by Assessor Berrios will give the Cook County Assessor the means to recoup funds from those who have improperly received homeowner, senior, disabled persons’ or disabled veterans’ exemptions.
The bipartisan legislation, unanimously passed by both the House and Senate, was signed by Gov. Quinn earlier this year. Berrios proposed the measure shortly after taking office when his administration noticed a high volume of e-mails and anonymous phone calls reporting that people were improperly receiving exemptions.
Under the new law, the erroneous savings must be repaid in full by the end of this year to avoid penalty, interest, or threat of civil and/or criminal prosecution. A taxpayer who claimed three or more exemptions in error is not eligible for amnesty.
“I want to make sure taxpayers are all paying their fair share of property taxes, no more and no less,” said Berrios.
The $2 million once collected, will be returned to local taxing bodies to provide much needed funding for schools and other governing taxing bodies.
Taxpayers may visit the Assessor’s website at www.cookcountyassessor.com to obtain additional information regarding the amnesty period and information detailing how to report erroneous exemption savings they have received. The website also allows taxpayers to anonymously report erroneous exemptions they may be aware of to ensure that all taxpayers pay their fair share.
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