Lake County Board measure would allow property owners to defer tax payments for 60 days
Some property owners would be able to defer a portion of their tax bills for 60 days without penalty under a measure to be considered next week by the Lake County Board.
After considerable discussion and input in recent weeks, the board's financial and administrative committee Thursday agreed to forward the measure.
Though not a roll call, the consensus was 5-2 to proceed to a full board vote. The ordinance to be considered is the only form of property tax relief for which the county board has legal authority, according to the an opinion from the Lake County state's attorney's office.
The county expects about 10% of the roughly 300,000 property taxpayers would apply for a deferral.
Providing some form of taxpayer relief from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has been intensely debated in recent weeks. Fire protection and school districts have weighed in, saying say they rely on property taxes and a significant delay in receiving that revenue could affect operations.
Others say the effort should be broadened to include hard-hit small businesses.
Supporters say this is the best option to directly help taxpayers. while other means to help residents and businesses are being researched.
"We're all trying to be responsive and this is one small piece," said finance committee Chairman Paul Frank.
Barring any changes before the official vote, the proposed ordinance allows 50% of both the first and second installments of property taxes to not become delinquent until 60 days after each their due dates.
In other words, the due date of half the amount of the first installment of property taxes due by June 8 would be extended to Aug. 7, and half the amount of the second installment would be extended from Sept. 8 to Nov. 9.
No interest penalty would be charged if all property taxes owed are paid in full by the due dates, according to the measure.
But what is described in the proposal as a "one-time opportunity" to support residents and taxing bodies that rely on property taxes would not be available to everyone.
Applicants would have to be the current owner of the property and have a homestead exemption for the parcel. They also have to be an individual, not a corporate or other legal entity, that pays property taxes directly to the Lake County treasurer's office and not through a third-party escrow agent, such as a bank.
Those seeking relief by deferring penalties would have to apply and show a financial hardship that affects their ability to pay on time.
To do that, applicants would have to show they were laid off or let go from a job they had for 90 days after March 9, or be a nonessential business that has been shut down and not received federal relief through the Paycheck Protection Program or CARES Act.