Thousands in Cook County to receive property tax refunds

Roughly 53,000 Cook County homeowners are in line for some type of property tax refund and most will see it automatically deposited in their banks or credit card accounts.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas announced more than $19.5 million will be refunded as early as Aug. 15. Anyone who received a second installment tax bill for zero dollars that was due Aug. 1 is likely to receive a refund, she said.

"And most don't have to do anything," Pappas said. "How much happier could you be to get money without having to wait for it?"

Because the value of homestead and senior citizen property tax exemptions for Cook County homeowners increased by $3,000 this year, residents with both of those exemptions are more likely to be affected, officials said. The value of the senior freeze program also increased, which means low-income seniors will receive some of the largest refunds.

The refunds were necessary because the first installment of property taxes is based on 55 percent of the previous year's tax bill. The previous year's tax bill used the old exemption values when they were calculated. So when the new value of the exemptions were applied in the second tax bill installments, many homeowners didn't owe anything and were entitled to a refund, according to officials in Pappas' office.

In the suburbs, the average property tax savings for the homestead exemption is $1,202 and the average savings created by the senior exemption is $961, according to the treasurer's office.

There are only seven homeowners receiving refunds in Barrington Township, but the average value of the refund is more than $3,000, according to Pappas' office. In the other northwest suburban Cook County townships of Hanover, Schaumburg, Elk Grove, Wheeling, Palatine, Maine and Leyden, there are 2,142 property owners receiving refunds that average roughly $400.

Homeowners can check to see if they will be receiving a refund by visiting the treasurer's website, clicking on the purple box labeled "Your Property Overview" and entering either an address or Property Index Number.

In all, 36,000 homeowners who paid taxes by check or online will have refunds applied to their bank or credit card accounts by Aug. 15, according to the treasurer's office. Another 15,000 who paid through mortgage escrow accounts will be mailed refund checks by Oct. 15. The final 2,000 who paid in cash will receive a refund application by mail to "ensure the property party receives the refund," according to Pappas' news release.

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