Homeowners will continue to pay $60 to $75 more when they get their second installment property tax bills in 2013, Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios said on Wednesday. The announcement comes after the Illinois Senate again failed to pass a law that would allow assessors to go after people who claim fraudulent property exemptions.
“This is a rampant problem in Cook County,” Berrios said. “Tax cheats know the system and that we can’t force them to pay. What they don’t know or care about is that the honest homeowner is picking up the tab. For struggling families, $75 is a week’s worth of food on the table.”
House Bill 506 would have curbed erroneous property exemptions and helped Illinois recover tens of millions of dollars that rightfully belongs to taxing bodies, including schools. The legislation passed the Illinois House, but the Senate twice voted it down — most recently on Tuesday. Several senators representing Cook County failed to vote, or cast a “no” vote against the bill.
“The senators who sat at their desks and failed to push their buttons showed lack of regard to their constituents,” said Berrios, who vowed to reintroduced the legislation in January.
The bill was intended to allow assessors to recover money from those who had taken erroneous exemptions. Analysts estimated that the bill would bring in $119 million statewide — $65 million to Cook County alone — by allowing counties to address scofflaws who choose to put their tax burdens on their neighbors by claiming homestead exemptions on multiple homes. The recovered money would then be returned to taxing bodies, including school districts.