DuPage could waive late fees on property taxes

DuPage County residents struggling to pay their property taxes because of the COVID-19 pandemic may not have to worry about late fees.

The county board's finance committee on Tuesday is expected to talk about establishing a grace period for some who can't afford their first property tax payment in June.

Treasurer Gwen Henry raised the issue in a memorandum to county board members.

Henry said her office started getting calls and emails last month from taxpayers asking if DuPage planned to delay collection of property taxes, which are due in two equal installments. The first payment is due June 1 and the second by Sept. 1.

With no plans to change the due days, tax bills are ready to be mailed to DuPage property owners at the end of the month. But Henry says state law allows the county board to adopt an ordinance waiving late penalties for taxpayers "adversely affected" by the COVID-19 crisis.

If the idea is approved by the county, taxpayers must apply - and demonstrate a need - to have their late fees waived for up to 90 days.

"This would assure that payments from escrow accounts would be paid on time," Henry wrote.

Henry said there's a number of taxpayers who are still working and haven't experienced a COVID-19 impact.

"We anticipate that they will pay their taxes as usual," she wrote.

While the finance committee is scheduled to talk about the proposal on Tuesday, the soonest the full county board would consider it is in two weeks.

County board member Jim Zay said DuPage officials want to talk to other taxing districts before making a decision.

"It's a very tough question," said Zay, a Carol Stream Republican who serves as vice chairman of the board. "We want to help people, but we can't hurt school districts, fire districts and municipalities that are assuming this revenue is going to be coming in."

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