Kane County residents may get some help with their property tax bills
Kane County property owners experiencing financial distress during the COVID-19 virus outbreak are set to get a little tax relief through two measures county officials are pursuing at the state and local levels.
One would provide a 30-day grace period on the first payment of this year's tax bills, which are due June 1. The other would waive the application process for homestead property tax exemptions for those who qualified for it last year.
Treasurer David Rickert received preliminary approval from a county board committee Wednesday to allow strapped local taxpayers to delay that first property tax bill payment until July 2 without the usual 1.5% interest penalty.
The second payment in September would continue per the usual schedule. Rickert said at least half the payments will still be paid June 1 because of prepayments and mortgage lenders that are required to make the payment with money property owners have put into escrow for taxes. Beyond that, Rickert said it's hard to tell how many people will take advantage of the waiver. "We are really in uncharted waters," he said.
"It's not an ideal recommendation; it's just simply the reality of the situation we are in." The worst-case scenario sees the county losing out on about $124,000 in late penalties, which is the average amount it receives in a typical year. Rickert said taxing bodies waiting to receive their cut of the taxes collected will see no delays in receiving their funds.
"We are trying to find a happy medium because we recognize our taxing districts also fund our first responders who are on the front lines of this crisis," he said.
The statewide emergency declaration allows counties to implement a change like this without additional state approval, Rickert said. However, a bill is in the works because not all counties share the same interpretation of the powers they have under the emergency declaration, he said. The second tax relief measure also seeks state lawmaker support. Mark Armstrong, who is a member of the County Officers Assessment Association of Illinois, told county officials he and his colleagues want to waive the application process for homestead property tax exemptions this year.
Those who qualified for an exemption last year would automatically receive the exemption this year. Armstrong said nearly 60% of people who apply for such exemptions come to his office for help understanding the process.
The automatic exemptions would limit the need for such contact during the outbreak. State law governs the exemption application process. Armstrong and his colleagues, even during the emergency declaration, don't have the power to make the change without state approval.
"Without some outside intervention, our property tax collections will be late," Armstrong said. "We are trying to prevent that because property tax revenue is the only stable revenue we have going into 2021."