Column: Your Property Taxes with Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas

You may be owed a refund for overpaying property taxes during past 20 years

By Maria Pappas

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - BusinessMy office is sitting on about $93 million in potential refunds for property tax overpayments going back 20 years. Most overpayments occurred because more than one person paid the same tax bill twice. Reasons why duplicate payments occurred include:

• Both the property owner and the property owner’s mortgage company paid the property tax bill;

• Both spouses paid the property tax bill without telling the other; and

• Two or more mortgage companies, banks or title companies paid the same taxes during a property purchase or refinancing.

You may be entitled to a refund even if you bought your property long ago. The law allows refunds for duplicate payments made up to 20 years ago. Thomas Chapman recently received a refund for a duplicate overpayment that was made in 2021. Chapman cared for his mother, who owned a home in the Wrightwood neighborhood on the South Side near Dan Ryan Woods Forest Preserve.

Chapman discovered he was owed a refund when he took possession of the property after she died. Her mortgage company paid the taxes, and she paid her tax bill in cash. When a homeowner dies, an heir who inherits the estate can file a claim if the homeowner was owed a refund. Chapman received a $1,216 refund for the 2021 double payment. He recently appeared as a guest on my “Black Houses Matter” radio show that airs at 11:30 a.m. every Monday on WVON-AM 1690. “It was ironic because when I was called to talk about being on the radio show I was just coming from the bank after I made the deposit,” Chapman said. “It was a smooth process getting the refund.”

Employees in my office helped Chapman file the paperwork he needed to apply for his refund. He filled out a form labeled, “Refund Application: Duplicate & Overpayment.” The form can be filed electronically and is available online at After providing contact information, you will be asked to submit proof of payment. We require documentation to ensure that refunds are issued to only to those who made the overpayment. It also helps prevent people attempting to file fraudulent claims from obtaining refunds. The documents must show that you paid the taxes for the tax year and installment when the overpayment occurred. The type of documentation depends on how payment was made. If you paid by cash, a copy of your teller receipt serves as proof of payment.

If you paid by personal check or a business check, a copy of the front of the canceled check used to pay the taxes is needed or a copy of the monthly bank statement showing the corresponding check number and amount of payment. If you paid online at, you’ll need a copy of your bank statement showing the transfer of funds to the Treasurer’s Office or a copy of your credit card statement showing payment. If a mortgage company paid the taxes, you can provide a copy of the IRS Form 1098 indicating taxes paid for the year in question. In Chapman’s case, he had to provide proof that he was the legal heir to his late mother’s estate. It took a while to get the necessary paperwork, he said.  “I finally got the letters of administration,” he said. Visit to find out if you are owed a share of $93 million in potential refunds for overpayments.

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