CHICAGO (WLS) --A major push is underway right now to make sure everyone who has overdue property taxes in Cook County pays up immediately.
By law, the 12-month grace period has been cut to eight months, which means property taxes due in 2016 must be paid immediately. Without payment, the situation will get worse on April 3.
Politicians and pastors, from the Southside and Westside, were hustling to spread the word.
On Sunday, a list may be posted at local churches or made available by church pastors. It's a list of who owes overdue taxes.
It's urgent, because if one doesn't pay their tax bill, someone else could buy their bill. The original tax bill recipient would then owe them the tax money plus interest.
"Keep these families in their homes. April 3rd should not be a death notice to them," said Rev. Michael Eaddy of the People's Church of the Harvest.
There was a call to action on Friday as politicians and pastors warned thousands of Cook County property owners to pay their taxes due in 2016.
"Reach out. Find out who it is in the community who owes this money," said Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas.
"I again urge all clergy, for the next three Sundays, if you will please make special announcement in your services," said Commissioner Richard Boykin from the 1st District of the Cook County Board.
With a shorter grace period, thousands have been caught off-guard. Right now, 50,000 Cook County property owners have not paid property taxes. About 6,400 taxpayers don't even know they owe money because their tax bills and seven notices were returned in the mail.
So why should you care?
If you have not paid overdue taxes, your tax bill is delinquent. By law, your unpaid tax bill can be sold at auction starting April 3rd. A tax buyer can purchase your tax bill and you would owe them the tax money plus interest.
"It hits every area of my ward. It's not just one pocket," said Ald. Roderick Sawyer (Ward 6).
Alderman Roderick Sawyer has the list on his desk. The 6th Ward he represents would be hit hard.
The median income in the 6th Ward is $35,000. The average tax bill is $2,400. As of Friday, when it comes to outstanding bills, there are 6,900 taxpayers who haven't paid.
"It was people on the list I knew personally, whose numbers were in my phone. So I had an opportunity to call quite a few people and give them a heads up," said Ald. Sawyer.
What should you do if your name is on the list?
"My recommendation is to consult an attorney, call an attorney, specifically a bankruptcy attorney," said Natalie Howse of the Cook County Bar Association.
At the pastor's news conference on Friday, two organizations, the Westside Justice Center and the Cook County Bar Association, stepped up to help anyone who has legal questions.
WESTSIDE JUSTICE CENTER:
COOK COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION:
If you're concerned about your property taxes, contact the Cook County Treasurer's Office. You will need your address or your property index number to check the status of your tax bill. You can either go online or call the office's phone number below.
COOK COUNTY TREASURER: http://www.cookcountytreasurer.com/
COOK COUNTY TREASURER PHONE NUMBER: 312-443-5100