Ask Terry Questions Cook county real estate tax exemptions

Cook county real estate tax exemptions

By Terry Savage on July 07, 2014 | Housing / Real Estate

My mother age 70 is now living in my condo. She cant afford rent elsewhere, so i cannot sell this condo. She will be responsible for all the bills including real estate tax. She lives alone. Only income is social security. Can she qualify for real estate tax exemptions , homestead , senior exemptions? If so how do we get her set up?

Terry Says:  Well, for a minute I thought I would have good news for you, but that’s not the case.     First, here is the law regarding the Homestead exemption.  It is available for residential property that is occupied as the principal dwelling place of the owner, or a lessee; with a legal or equitable interest in the property; with a single-family residence; and who is liable for the payment of the property taxes on the leased property. The amount of exemption is the increase in the current year’s equalized assessed value (EAV), above the 1977 EAV, up to a maximum of $7,000 in Cook County and $6,000 in all other counties.   (Here’s a link to the law itself:

So I figured that left you out cold, BUT I did some more research, and, astoundingly, there is a loophole in the Illinois property tax law that does allow a landlord to get a homestead exemption on rental property if the tenant is clearly and specifically responsible for the property taxes (although the bill still goes to the owner of the property).  Here’s a link to a story explaining the situation — too long to cut and past the entire story here, but you will find it interesting, and legal!

There is a move to get this loophole removed.  The latest info I could find was from 2012– when a bill in the Il legislature failed to remove the loophole that lets landlords take multiple Homestead exemptions:

But then I checked with my all-time expert on the subject –property tax attorney Andrea Raila,  my go-to source for real estate tax law at 312-587-9494. She confirmed that the loophole still exists — BUT it is available only for single family homes, NOT CONDOS!!   So,  that’s the bad news –there is no special deal either through the Homestead exemption or the Senior exemption, which is only available to homeowners over age 65, who reside in the property.

lllinois used to have a circuit breaker program to help senior renters, but that has not been funded in recent years because of budget cutbacks.  So my only suggestion might be to declare your mother as a dependent on your tax return if  you contribute more than 50 percent of her living costs (which could include rent, or housing expense).

Sorry not to have better news for you, but you are doing a good thing in helping your mother.  That’s really priceless.



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