DuPage County working on plan to waive late fees on property taxes

Updated 4/14/2020 5:24 PM

DuPage County Board members appear to support a proposal to waive late fees for residents unable to pay their property taxes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But before there's a vote, some members want waiver applicants to meet certain guidelines, while others say the application process should be as simple as possible.


"We don't have to make the process complicated," said board member Don Puchalski, an Addison Republican. "If somebody needs a few months' deferment, we should do that."

Treasurer Gwen Henry on Tuesday addressed the county board's finance committee about establishing a grace period for those who can't afford their first property tax payment. The taxes are due in two equal installments -- the first by June 1 and the second by Sept. 1.

Henry anticipates roughly 60% of tax revenue due June 1 will come in on time.

But with unemployment skyrocketing, she said the county could adopt an ordinance waiving late penalties for those adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Henry said her office is recommending taxpayers fill out applications to have their late fees waived for up to 90 days.

"They have to let us know if they have been impacted by COVID-19 and will need to waive that penalty until they can pay the taxes by Sept. 1," Henry said.

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The soonest the board could vote on the proposal is in two weeks. In the meantime, member Jim Healy says the county must get input from other taxing districts.

"I think we need to talk to every other governmental entity we collect taxes for and get their opinion on this," the Naperville Republican said.

Board member Tim Elliott said he talked to several school districts that want waivers limited to those who demonstrate a real hardship. The Glen Ellyn Republican said applicants should have at least a 40% loss of household income.

But member Brian Krajewski said the county doesn't have enough staff to check every application.

"I think we do it for everybody or nobody," the Downers Grove Republican said. "Take people at their word."


Board member Elizabeth Chaplin said residents should simply fill out an application stating they have a hardship. "I don't think we need a lot of evidence," she said.

The Downers Grove Democrat said she doesn't believe a large number of people will take advantage of the situation and pay late.

"I think those that can pay are really going to pay," she said. "And those that can't really can't.

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