Cook County board officials want Springfield lawmakers to pass pending legislation that would allow counties to go after residents for back property taxes owed due to undeserved exemptions.
Property owners should only receive exemptions on their primary residence, but officials say the reductions have been given on rental properties, second homes, and vacation property. Owners have also received unwarranted exemptions for being disabled, a veteran, or senior citizen. The proposed bill would not only force property owners to pay the amount wrongly exempted, but would also required them to ante up a percentage of the total amount that should have originally been paid. Liens could be placed on properties, under the bill, to coerce payment.
A similar bill stalled in Springfield last year, which Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios blamed partially on opposition from real estate agents and landlords. Cook County leaders say $154 million could be recouped by the bill's passage.
Last year, the Chicago Tribune did an investigation into property tax exemptions in Cook County and found that several public officials also received the reductions undeservedly alongside thousands of other taxpayers.