Cook County reaches out to seniors over tax break

February 7, 2011

Cook County is reminding senior citizens to re-apply this year for an exemption that could save them hundreds of dollars in property taxes.

The property tax exemption for senior citizens used to renew automatically, but in an effort to fight fraud, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law last summer requires seniors to re-apply every year.

County Assessor Joe Berriors maintains the fraud in the system is minmal, and the process of making seniors re-apply annually is costly, and more trouble than its worth.

"All the people who are cheating we should catch," Berrios said. "But we shouldn't have to punish the people who are entitled to this exemption, so that we should be out there trying to help everyone."

Berrios is sending out nearly 300,000 applications to Cook County seniors. They must be returned to the county by March 3, and would be reflected on this fall's installment of county property taxes.

The senior exemption would about $200 a year for a senior who's home was assessed at $100,000, Berrios said.