Property owners in Lake and 17 other counties affected by flooding in July may be eligible for a state tax credit up to $750.
The Flood Victim Tax Credit bill, signed into law Thursday by Gov. Bruce Rauner, will help those still recovering or rebuilding from storms that caused historic and widespread damage, supporters say.
State Sen. Melinda Bush and state Rep. Sam Yingling, both Grayslake Democrats, sponsored the measure after federal authorities did not authorize an individual assistance program for Illinois.
"We feel your pain and we've seen so many families dealing with this issue without any help," Bush said during a news conference Thursday at the Round Lake Park village hall.
She and Yingling were joined by Mayor Linda Lucassen and Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor.
In a separate action Thursday, the U.S. Small Business Administration opened a Disaster Loan Outreach Center at the Lake County Emergency Operations Center, 1303 Milwaukee Ave., in Libertyville. Low-interest loans are available to eligible businesses and homeowners in varying amounts, rates and terms. Applicants also can apply online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
But cash in hand is what many residents could use, officials said.
Lucassen said several hundred people in Round Lake Park were affected by flooding. Some are still staying with relatives because of damage to their homes.
The village will be alerting residents of the new tax credit, Lucassen said.
"This new law will make a major impact for some of our residents," she said. "I think that's the hope here our village has -- there will be some help."
The natural disaster tax credit is available in Lake, Cook, Kane and McHenry counties, where about 3,200 homes were damaged, according to a review by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the SBA. The four counties were among those declared state disaster areas by Rauner.
Qualified properties include a taxpayer's main residence or land owned by a small business, but not a rental or lease. Individuals must have reported property damage to the appropriate authority to qualify for the tax credit.
The allowable income tax credit will be the lesser of $750 or the deduction allowed under the Internal Revenue Code for each taxpayer who owns qualified property, according to Rauner's office.
The credits will come from the state's general fund. An initial Department of Revenue estimate is $4.4 million in credits will be paid, according to Bush's office.
A certificate identifying the taxpayer's property damaged as a result of a natural disaster will be available from township assessors to be included with the income tax forms.
Taxes owed can't be less than zero but the credit can be carried over and applied for five years.
"This is what local representatives are supposed to do, regardless of party, regardless of everything," Bush said of the effort.