News from President Toni Preckwinkle

Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios extends deadline for Senior Citizen Exemption

Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios announced today that he has extended the deadline for the Senior Citizen Exemption until March 22nd so that all eligible seniors may take advantage of this important money saving exemption.

“We mailed applications to nearly 300,000 taxpayers who received the Senior Exemption last year but still have not heard back from many of the eligible seniors,” Berrios explained. “I am concerned that many people still may not be aware that a new law requires them to reapply, and I am urging all eligible seniors to return their applications as quickly as possible.”

All exemptions appear as deductions on second-installment tax bills.  The Senior Exemption application was part of a booklet mailed to all eligible seniors. The booklet also contains the Senior Freeze Exemption application. The deadline for the Senior Freeze Exemption has also been extended.

The Assessor’s Office has hosted numerous forums throughout the county and worked closely with the City of Chicago and other elected officials to make seniors aware of the new annual application requirement.

“Seniors have worked hard their entire lives and should receive all the tax relief they deserve,” Assessor Berrios said.  “I will continue to work with legislative leaders in Springfield who have agreed to look at overturning this law. Even if we are successful, seniors still have to re-apply this year so that they do not miss this valuable money-saving opportunity.”

On Tuesday, the Cook County Board unanimously approved a special resolution urging the Illinois General Assembly to repeal the law requiring seniors to reapply for the exemption.

The Senior Citizen Exemption provides tax relief by reducing the equalized assessed valuation of an eligible residence. Seniors receiving the Senior Citizen Exemption automatically qualify for the Homeowner Exemption, and do not have to apply for it separately.  Annual applications are not required for the Homeowner Exemption as long as residency does not change.

Seniors who did not receive applications in the mail but believe they are entitled to the exemption, may download a form by visiting They can also call (312) 443-7550 and request a form be mailed to them.

To qualify for the Senior Citizen Exemption for the taxable year 2010, the property owner must have:

  • Been born prior to or in the year 1945,
  • owned the property, or have a lease or contract which makes them responsible for the real estate taxes, and
  • Used the property as a principal place of residence.
  • The Senior Citizen Exemption application does not need to be notarized.

In addition to the Senior Citizen Exemption, seniors on limited incomes may also qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption. This exemption freezes the equalized assessed value of their property. To qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption for the taxable year 2010 taxpayers must have:

  • Been born prior to or in the year 1945,
  • A total household income of $55,000 or less for income tax year 2009,
  • Owned the property or had a legal, equitable or leasehold interest in the property on January 1, 2009 and January 1, 2010,
  • Used the property as a principal place of residence as of January 1, 2009 and January 1, 2010, and
  • Been liable for the payment of 2009 and 2010 property taxes.

Annual application is required for the Senior Freeze Exemption as total household income may fluctuate yearly.  Because it is based on income, the Senior Freeze Exemption application must be notarized.  Taxpayers who apply and qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption will automatically receive the Senior Citizen Exemption.

Eligible seniors who have never applied for the senior exemptions in the past may visit the Assessor’s Web site and download an application or contact the Assessor’s Office.

“I hope that the deadline extension will give seniors the time they need to get their exemption applications completed and returned to my office,” Assessor Berrios said. “We will continue to reach out to Cook County seniors to ensure that they receive all the money-saving exemptions to which they are rightfully entitled.”


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