Late Second Installment 2020 property tax bills to be mailed in late August?

August 10, 2021 7

Schaumburg Assessor John R. Lawson says he expects 2020 second installment property tax bills will be sent out in late August, amid an ongoing fracas between the Assessor, Treasurer, and Clerk's Offices. 

The expected due date is Oct. 1.

Cook County property owners are anxiously awaiting the issuance of these bills, as they will tell the story of how Covid-19 and its fallout really impacted the tax burdens of homeowners. With a commercial tax revenue shortfall expected and the Assessor's "Covid-19 adjustment" having reduced many 2020 tax assessments in the City and Northwest, PTS has long projected significant tax rate increases across most Townships on the 2020 second installment bills. 

Whether the tax rate increase will prove significant enough to render the adjustments null or worse remains to be seen. 

What's holding up the process, according to various news reports, is an audit Assessor Fritz Kaegi performed on Senior Freeze Exemptions which turned up numerous bogus claims from tax cheats. The probe identified as much as $250 million in false claims, according to The Chicago Sun-Times

The Senior Freeze Exemption is meant to protect seniors with fixed incomes from upward housing market volatility, exempting them from new reassessmentsif and only if their household income is below $65,000. As an example of Senior Freeze misdeeds, the Sun-Times pointed to a Magnificent Mile condominium currently on the market for $3.3 million which only generates an annual tax bill of $2,502.

For emphasis, properties worth scarcely more than $100,000 in certain parts of Rich and Bloom Townships in Southern Cook County can generate tax bills in excess of $10,000 annually.   

But, according to ABC Chicago, the Clerk and Treasurer's Offices took issue with the late changes and asked the Assessor to sign, under penalty of law, an itemized list of the exact number of properties which saw assessment changes related to the Senior Freeze issues. 

Kaegi told ABC the move was unnecessary and he had no intention of signing the document. 

"The state's Attorney sent out an opinion saying that the Clerk and Treasurer have to do your jobs and calculate the rates and send out the bills, so we consider the matter having been resolved," he said in an interview. "It's up to them to execute their duties."
 
Meanwhile, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin is pushing a prompt resolution of the issue. 
 
In an interview with Politico Playbook, he warned the delay in the issuance of 2020 second installment tax bills could cause cash-flow problems and necessitate program-cutting or unfavorable borrowing. 
 
As always, we shall see.