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Penalty Eases For Delinquent 2023 Property Tax

If you are one of the several thousand Chicago property owners who were financially unable to pay the first installment of your 2023 property tax bill on March 1, don’t be dismayed.

While the best thing to do is to pay your taxes on time and avoid delinquency, there is some good news this year. If you did not pay your taxes by the due date you will end up paying more because of the interest penalty. However, the penalty has been reduced.

The Cook County Treasurer’s Office accepts partial payments from those unable to pay the full amount. After March 1, any balance due is charged a late fee of 0.75 percent per month – or $75 per $1,000 of delinquent taxes – as required by state law.

“The 2023 tax bill is the first bill that reflects how we succeeded in slashing the interest rate penalty in half,” noted Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas (left).

Illinois lawmakers in 2023 approved historic reforms championed by Pappas that reduced the interest rate penalty from 1.5 to 0.75 percent per month, or from 18 to 9 percent annually.

The Cook County Treasurer’s Office posted nearly 1.8 million bills online in December 2023 and mailed bills to taxpayers in late January 2024. Property owners also can use the Treasurer’s website to accomplish the following possible money-saving tasks:

• Search for up to $93 million in available refunds. In 2023, more than 53,000 Cook County property owners were handed upwards of $47 million in refunds because Pappas determined that they overpaid their taxes last year for the 2022 tax bill.

• Check to see if you are missing out on some $57 million in tax exemptions, which can lower the tax bill. Most of the refunds will go to homeowners who are receiving property tax exemptions. The three primary exemptions are the Homeowner’s, Senior Citizen, and Senior Freeze.

Senior Freeze is earmarked for low-income seniors.

Taxpayers can see the exemptions and the dollars saved on the second installment of the 2023 bill, which is due in fall of 2024.

“If you have a refund coming, we’ll return your money,” Pappas said.

More than 58 percent of the refunds will be deposited directly into property owners’ bank accounts.

Pappas launched the automatic refund program in July 2018. Through 2023, more than 174,000 property owners received about $129 million in refunds without having to fill out an application.

Here is a breakdown of some of the refunds through 2023:

• A total of 16,629 homeowners who paid their taxes online received $14.8 million in refunds electronically deposited into their bank or credit card accounts.

• A whopping 22,241 property owners who paid their taxes through a bank/mortgage escrow account were mailed refund checks totaling $14.8 million.

• Some 14,137 homeowners who paid a total of $17.4 million in taxes via cash or check received an electronic refund or were mailed a refund application to ensure the proper party receives the money.

“Every homeowner should review their exemptions outlined on the second installment of their real estate tax bill because they can reduce their bill by hundreds of dollars if they have the proper exemptions applied to it,” said Michael Griffin (left), a Chicago real estate tax appeal attorney.

Great advice, but many hard-working homeowners apparently are too busy. They don’t look at their tax bill or go online to check their exemptions and often miss the hefty financial rewards.

Now, before the second installment is mailed, homeowners may check the Cook County Assessor’s website for the proper exemptions. Scroll down to the prompt for your 14-digit Property Identification Number, enter your PIN, and when your property data pops up, click “exemptions” to learn the history of the property. You may also search by address.

However, hundreds of smart homeowners are beginning to wake up and smell the coffee. For example, in 2021, the owner of a modest frame bungalow, in Jefferson Township on the Far Northwest Side, with an estimated market value of $220,000 was billed a total of $4,427.

Although the 3-bedroom, 1-bath home is owner-occupied, the Assessor’s website shows zero Homeowner Exemptions listed for the years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. The alert homeowner filed the paperwork and within weeks, received four tax refund checks from the Cook County Treasurer totaling more than $3,051 for the lost exemptions.

How tax exemptions work

The property tax bill is determined by four factors: the assessment, the equalization factor or “multiplier,” the tax rate, and the exemptions, according to Griffin.

The Homeowner’s Exemption recently was increased to $10,000 from $7,000, and the Senior Exemption was hiked to $8,000 from $5,000. Those exemption amounts are deducted from the tax bill.

Also, more seniors can qualify for the Senior Freeze because the Illinois Legislature recently increased the maximum annual income to receive the freeze to less than $65,000 from less than $55,000.

Other exemptions are designated for: Home Improvement, Long-time Homeowners, Persons with Disabilities, Religious Institutions, Returning Veterans, and Veterans with Disabilities.

“Every homeowner should review the second installment of their tax bill to see if they received the proper exemptions, and contact the Assessor if the exemptions are incorrect,” Griffin advised.

However, predicting a hefty future property tax increase really centers on two wild cards – the tax rate and the state equalization factor, which cannot be challenged by taxpayers.

The equalization factor, or “multiplier,” is established each year for Cook County to bring property tax assessments in line with other parts of Illinois. The factor is determined by the Illinois Department of Revenue.

The 2022 tax rate in Chicago slipped slightly to 6.697 percent per $100 of assessed valuation from 6.723 percent a year earlier. And the 2022 state equalization factor, designed to make assessments uniform statewide, declined to 2.9237 percent per $100 of assessed valuation from 3.0027 percent a year earlier.

The main engine that drives up property tax bills is the amount of money spent by local government. For example, homeowners who read their 2022 tax bills will see the continued increased spending for schools and police, firefighter, and teacher pensions.

Property owners who think they are over-assessed should appeal now, Griffin advises.

Visit the Assessor’s website to find comparable properties or start the appeal process. The Assessor is now starting the 2024 appeal process during which the entire city of Chicago will be reassessed.

A taxpayer can file with the Cook County Board of Review and later with the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, or call Michael Griffin, an expert tax assessment lawyer.

⦁ Cook County Assessor’s Office


⦁ Cook County Board of Review


⦁ Cook County Treasurer’s Office


⦁ Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board


⦁ Michael Griffin


Don DeBat is co-author of “Escaping Condo Jail,” the ultimate survival guide for condominium living. Visit


“The book is Escaping Condo Jail by Sara Benson and Don DeBat. I would say that anybody thinking about buying a condo, or even anybody serving on a condo board, or anybody who has any connection to a condo, this is must reading—all 600 and something pages. Thanks a lot for a great book!”


Steve Sanders, “Your Money Matters” WGN TV, December 22, 2014

By Don DeBat

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