Recognizing the financial toll of the coronavirus and the pressing need to extend economic relief to area homeowners, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Wednesday plans to waive late fees on property tax payments.
“These are incredibly difficult times for our residents and this measure creates much-needed breathing room for Cook County property owners,” Preckwinkle said.
“With residents and businesses facing so many challenges and difficulties because of the coronavirus, waiving late fees on property taxes is the right thing to do right now. This can keep residents in their homes and allow businesses much needed time to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Under the proposed relief ordinance, interest penalties for late payments of the second installment of property taxes, which are normally due August 3, will now be postponed until October 1.
Any payments made on or before October 1 for property tax second installments will be considered filed and paid on time by Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas. Under state law, late property tax payments are charged 1.5 percent of the total property taxes owed per month, which is collected by the Cook County Treasurer.
“We’re in the midst of a national crisis with lives and livelihoods at stake,” said Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi. “In a time of financial hardship for County taxpayers, this decision provides relief to those most in need of it.”
"Keeping families and households afloat during these tough times is key to our recovery, and delaying interest and penalties on property taxes is the compassionate thing to do," said Cook County Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough.
The Cook County Treasurer collects over $12 billion annually on behalf of over 2,200 jurisdictions that include all underlying municipalities, school districts, park districts, libraries and other taxing districts.
"We can't rely on the Trump administration to provide the necessary assistance: local government needs to act," Chair of the Cook County Board of Review Michael Cabonargi said. "Our hope is that this late fee waiver will ease some of the financial pressure on homeowners and families, and reassure landlords that they have some flexibility on their upcoming bills and can now offer more leniency to tenants who are struggling to pay rent on time, particularly those in black and brown communities that have been both disproportionately infected by the virus and impacted by the financial ramifications of the shelter-in-place order."
"This pandemic is placing serious financial strain on the homeowners and landlords of Cook County, and we at the Board of Review don't want to wait to help people until they appeal their property taxes a few months from now," Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Larry Rogers said. "This solution helps people now by giving families, business owners, and landlords a few extra months to pay their property taxes or to file an appeal. It’s our responsibility to do everything we can to help those most impacted by the pandemic, especially families in back and brown communities.”
The property tax relief ordinance will be presented at the next full meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners scheduled for May 21.
“This initiative is something we can do immediately that offers much-needed tax relief during these unprecedented and challenging times,” Preckwinkle added. “It is our hope this measure can help alleviate some of the financial strain and anxiety being experienced by residents and businesses, while balancing the fiscal needs of our underlying taxing districts.”