Ask Terry Questions Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Exemption

Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Exemption

By Terry Savage on July 26, 2014 | Housing / Real Estate

My mother is 80 years old and has owned and occupied her home for 41 years. Twice we have applied for the above exemption and have been denied. This past week we were told she was denied because her home is to old. Is this exemption based on the age of the property or the age of the owner/occupant?

Thank you Terry for all your help.

Terry Says: Please forgive the delay in responding, but I wanted to do some research on the subject.  I don’t know who denied your mother’s claim but it is total BS (sorry, but my grandest pet peeve is financial mistreatment of seniors!).  I spoke with property tax attorney Andrea Raila, my expert in all these issues.  (

Below is her message, which both explains and gives the necessary qualifications, to get the senior freeze (which,she notes, does not necessarily prevent increases in your property tax bill, but does limit them by way of a formula).  I will cut and paste her response.   But first, here’s a link to the application form which must be returned to the County Assessors office (if you’re in Cook County that’s at 118 N. Clark Street).    Paste that link into your browser to get the form.

OK, now here’s the information from Andrea Raila:

The Senior Freeze Exemption  is to reduce the increase in equalized assessed value (EAV) which is a  complicated calculation of a specific percentage of the Assessor’s estimate of your home’s market value. (market value x assessment level x multiplier)  So if your market value increases rapidly over the years you have a better chance to qualify.  Both the property owner’s income and age (NOT the age of the home) are not sufficient to determine eligibility because the exemption is based on the rate of growth of the EAV (and indirectly of the home’s market value).
The Senior Freeze Exemption kicks in for the year preceding the year in which you first apply and qualify for this exemption. For example, a senior citizen who qualifies and applies for this exemption in taxable year 2013 will have the EAV of the property frozen at the 2012 EAV.

Those who qualify should be aware that this does not automatically freeze the amount of their tax bill. Only the EAV remains at the fixed amount which represents their market values in a complex formula. So even this exemption will not guarantee that your tax bill will be “frozen” indeed they should perhaps rename  the Senior “Freeze” Exemption because even if you qualify the tax bill can be increased (perhaps the Senior Thaw Exemption)

To qualify for the taxable year 2013, (payable taxes in 2014)  taxpayers must be:

  • been born prior to or in the year 1948,
  • a total household income of $55,000 or less for income tax year 2012,
  • owned the property or had a legal, equitable or leasehold interest in the property on January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2013,
  • used the property as a principal place of residence as of January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012, and
  • been liable for the payment of 2011 and 2012 property taxes.

Those who are currently receiving the Senior Citizen Exemption will automatically receive an application form for the Senior Freeze Exemption.  But just because you are mailed the form doesn’t mean the Assessor thought you were qualified!  

You must file each year in order to continue to receive the Senior Freeze Exemption and the requirements must be met each year.

Are there other options available to seniors?

  • Senior Citizen Real Estate
  • Tax Deferral Program
  • Circuit Breaker Program





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