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2020/2021 Wheel Tax Vehicle License Information
Section 74-552 of the current Cook County Wheel Tax Ordinance that requires a Cook County Vehicle License for all motor vehicles owned and operated by a person who resides within unincorporated Cook County. The Cook County Vehicle License is an annual license for the period of July 1st through June 30th of the following year and payment must be remitted by July 1st of each year.
The CURRENT 2019/2020 VEHICLE LICENSE PAYMENT can still be remitted online, by mail, in-person at the Cook County Department of Revenue located at 118 N. Clark Street – Suite 1160, Chicago, IL 60602 or at over 100+ participating ELS (currency exchange/retail payment processing) locations. Failure to comply with the Cook County Wheel Tax Ordinance by not remitting payment for the 2019/2020 vehicle license will result in additional penalties and further enforcement action taken by the Department that may require an appearance in Administrative Hearings to address the offense.
Who is Liable for the Unincorporated Cook County Wheel Tax Liability Notification?
Effective September 1, 2020 – The amended Cook County Wheel Tax Ordinance, Section 74-552 states, that it is unlawful for any vehicle owner with a vehicle registered within the unincorporated area of Cook County to own, possess, use, or to cause or permit any of his agents, employees, lessees or bailees to use any motor vehicle upon the unincorporated area of Cook County without remitting payment for the annual Wheel Tax Liability.
About the 2020/2021 Cook County Wheel Tax Relief Package and Other Program Enhancements
With residents facing so many challenges and difficulties created by the coronavirus, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the Department of Revenue (DOR) are working tirelessly to provide meaningful relief throughout Cook County. We are making changes to the upcoming Wheel Tax 2020/2021 License year (see below) that will help reduce fines, provide much-needed financial breathing room for vehicle owners and extend deadlines for payment because it is the right thing to do during these trying times.
Future enhancements in late 2020 or early 2021 will include the launching of our Integrated Tax Processing System that will have multiple on-line portal features such as allowing taxpayers to self-assess, file and remit their Wheel Tax liability for newly purchased vehicles or if they become new residents, manage and update their account information, request a Wheel Tax Ordinance exemption (Senior or NF category) or an exclusion (remove a vehicle that was sold, junked, etc.) and request a refund from the Department.
Payments will be accepted online, by mail, in-person at DOR and at over 100+ participating ELS (currency exchange/retail payment processing) locations.
Highlighted Benefits (Amended Ordinance – Under Downloads)
The purpose of the reengineering strategy for Wheel Tax is to improve the overall process. Some of the resident benefits include (but are not limited to):
- Extending the current Wheel Tax license year by two months to August 31, 2020. The 2020/2021 Wheel Tax Season will be from September 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.
- Vehicle owners will have a new 30-day grace period after the due date where the late fee will be $25, after the 30-day grace period expires the late fee will be 100% of your tax due.
- Removal of residency language to ensure taxation is based on vehicle registration address.
Senior Citizens and No Fee Exemption
Residents that qualify as a Senior Citizen or certain No Fee Exemption classifications will not be required to register or remit a tax payment as of July 1, 2019. The Department will continuously update and maintain exemption statuses in the new Integrated Tax Processing System to eliminate future billings based on specific matching criteria. In order to qualify for a Senior Citizen or a certain No Fee Exemption, the resident must turn 65 years old on or before July 1st of the current Wheel Tax Year. In order to qualify for a certain No Fee Exemption, the resident must meet the ordinance requirements on or before July 1st of the current Wheel Tax Year. Supporting documentation is required.
The Senior (SR) exemption has been amended to now mirror other No Fee Categories so there is no limit/cap on vehicle licenses and no vehicle class restrictions. If a Senior Citizen or a qualifying No Fee Category receives a notification, they can work directly with the Department to update their account status at this time. Once our NEW online portal feature becomes available, Senior Citizens and specific No Fee Categories will have the ability to conveniently file their own request for an exemption to update their account with the Department.
If you receive a notice from the Department and you qualify for a Senior or No Fee exemption, please email your supporting documentation to Wheel.Tax@cookcountyil.gov or fax them to (312) 603-5717.
Proration – Newly Purchased or Acquired Vehicles and New Residents
The proration period will now be January 1st through June 30th. New Residents will now qualify for a prorated tax rate. In order to qualify for a prorated vehicle license per the amended ordinance, residents must do the following on or after January 1st: Purchase or acquire a NEW vehicle and file within 30 days of their purchase date or move from an area outside of unincorporated Cook County INTO the unincorporated Cook County area within 30 days of their Lease or Mortgage date. If the 30 day grace period expires, the resident is liable for the prorated tax amount plus the assessed penalty.
What happens if the 2020 / 2021 Wheel Tax Liability Notification is not paid?
If payment is not received on or prior to September 1st, 2020, it will result in the Department issuing a Tax Determination and Assessment Notification that will include an assessed late penalty of $25.00. If payment is not remitted 30 days after September 1st, the original tax amount and a late penalty equal to the tax amount will be due. Failure to comply with the Cook County Ordinance will result in additional penalties and further enforcement action taken by the Department that may require an appearance in Administrative Hearings to address the offense.
- How will the Sheriff’s Police know that the Wheel Tax liability has been paid?
The Sheriff’s Department will work with the Department on ensuring that citations are written to noncompliant residents.
- Will the Sheriff’s Department issue a citation for not having a physical license displayed?
No. Sheriffs will no longer issue citations for “Failure to display”.
- Is there an extension or grace period for renewal for 2020/2021 tax period?
A reduced penalty grace period has been approved for the 2020/2021 Wheel Tax period. Currently, if payment is not remitted by the due date, the taxpayer will incur a $25.00 late fee in addition to the original tax amount. The tax and $25.00 late fee must be paid within 30 days of the due date. If payment is not received within the 30-day reduced fee grace period, the late fee will then be equal to the amount of tax due.
- Is it required that the payment receipt of the Wheel Tax liability be kept in the vehicle?
No, a payment receipt is not required; however, it is good practice to retain it for record keeping purposes.
- Can a payment be made at a participating Township office for the 2020/2021 Wheel Tax liability?
No. Townships are no longer processing payments for the Cook County Wheel Tax.
- Is there a cap/limit to the amount of Antique vehicle discounts (antique car collectors)?
No. Per the amended ordinance, as long as the vehicle qualifies as an antique, there are no limitations on the discounted vehicle class rate.
- If my vehicle is in storage or inoperable, do I still have to pay the Wheel Tax?
Yes. If your vehicle is registered with the Illinois Secretary of State to an address in unincorporated Cook County, it is unlawful for any vehicle owner to own, possess, use or register a vehicle and not remit the Wheel Tax.
- Are there certain Exemptions that must be filed annually?
Yes. Per the Cook County Wheel Tax ordinance (please reference), the following annual exemptions must be renewal annually with the Department of Revenue: Active Law Enforcement Officer, Active Military Duty and Apportionable Vehicle.
- What is needed in order to pay the tax?
Residents will receive an annual Wheel Tax Liability Notification for each vehicle they own. A new Cook ID and Invoice number will be issued on the notification that will be needed in order to process the payment online, by mail, in-person at DOR or at participating ELS locations. (Cook ID and Invoice Numbers from prior Wheel Tax Seasons can not be reused).
- What if I did not receive a Wheel Tax Liability Notification?
If a resident recently purchased a vehicle or moved into unincorporated Cook County and did not receive a renewal notification, they should contact the Department by phone, email, or appear in-person for assistance. Supporting documentation regarding the vehicle and residency is required.
- Will I continue to receive notifications?
If the Wheel Tax liability has been fully paid on or before September 1, 2020, no further notifications will be issued by the Department until the next renewal period. Failure to comply with the Cook County Wheel Tax Ordinance will result in additional penalties and further enforcement action taken by the Department that may require an appearance in Administrative Hearings to address the offense.
If you have not received a Notice of Tax Liability or have questions regarding the Wheel Tax process, please contact the Department of Revenue’s Call Center at (312) 603-6961 during normal business hours Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for assistance. If you have received a notice from the Department and would like to update/correct any information or believe that you do not owe this tax (Senior/ No Fee exemption, sold, totaled, donated vehicle, etc.), please email your supporting documentation to Wheel.Tax@cookcountyil.gov or fax them to (312) 603-5717.