Column: Your Property Taxes with Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas

Homeowner exemptions slash tax bills. So why do so many fail to apply?

By: Maria Pappas

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - BusinessHomeowners can reduce their property tax bills by hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year by taking advantage of the Homeowner Exemption. Exemptions are tax breaks. To qualify for the Homeowner Exemption, first-time applicants must have occupied the residence as of Jan. 1 of the tax year in question. Homeowner Exemptions are automatically renewed each year for properties that were not sold to new owners in the past year. Taxpayers whose primary residence is a single-family home, townhouse, condominium, co-op or apartment building (up to six units) are eligible. Some people own more than one home, but they can only claim their primary residence for their Homeowner Exemption.

To check the exemptions you are receiving, visit and click on the purple box labeled Your Property Tax Overview. You can search using your address or 14-digit Property Index Number (PIN). If you use your address to search, simply enter your house number and street name. Do not include north, south, east or west. A picture of your property should appear so you know you’ve found the right place. The results should display a grid about exemptions. If your results show that you are not receiving a Homeowner Exemption for which you are entitled, click on the link that says, “Apply for a missing exemption.”

Thousands of Cook County residents fail to take advantage of Homeowner Exemptions every year. Many first-time homebuyers are unaware they are entitled to the tax break. Perhaps a Realtor, attorney, mortgage broker or other professional told them about exemptions when they bought their home. But many buyers forget about the Homeowner Exemption by the time they are eligible to apply the first time. The good news is they can receive refunds for missed Homeowner Exemptions typically going back four years. Refund applications typically take four to six weeks to process. You can translate into 133 different languages to get information about Homeowner Exemptions. You can also call our office at (312) 443- 5100. Our phone system serves customers in English, Spanish and Polish. The website also offers brochures that explain Homeowner Exemptions in 28 languages.

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