Man closer to property tax refund after I-Team steps in

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The I-Team helped one man reclaim money owed to him over a property tax refund mix-up. The I-Team found out how this could happen during the sale of a home if you're not careful.

It was the case of a missing refund check. The seller of the home blamed the Cook County Assessor's Office, saying they issued the check to the wrong person. Now about six months after an I-Team story, the man who contacted the I-Team said he's seeing results.

Martin Stojanovich credited the I-Team for a recent small claims court win. He said because of the investigation, the Cook County Assessor's Office supplied him with documents and records to help him win his case against the buyer of his home, who he said owes him almost $4,000.

"I had made numerous calls to numerous peoples over many, many months and it wasn't until you folks came online that these things really started happening," Stojanovich said.

Stojanovich contacted the I-Team in August. He was demanding $3,897 from the Cook County Assessor's Office for a "senior freeze" tax refund on his late mother's property, which he sold last year.

A week after the sale he went to the Assessor's office, filled out a form with his name, the property address and his current home address so he could get the refund check. But when he called to get an update, he was shocked at the response.

Marin: "They said, 'Yes, you cashed it.' I said, 'I never received it. I never cashed it.'"

Jason: "You're saying they sent it to the wrong person?"
Martin: "Yes sir, that's exactly what I'm saying."

That check was sent to the property which was sold and written to the new buyer of the home, not Stojanovich.

"That should be taken care of at closing. There is no way the Assessor's Office is responsible for that. We followed proper procedures with the information we were given, according to the law," said Tom Shaer, Cook County Assessor's Office.

But the Assessor's Office pledged to help Stojanovich, sending him paperwork which a spokesperson called a "significant help to his case."

"We saw the judge and now it turns out he has to pay," Stajanovich said.

Court documents show a judgement awarded, but Stojanovich said the new owner of the home offered only $100 a month, so he is taking him back to court. Meanwhile, he's hoping for changes to the Assessor's Office.

"I would like to see that whoever applies for it, that they read these documents and make sure that the appropriate party is getting that check back," he said.

The Assessor's Office contends his issue was due to a mistake a closing, but said more is being done to inform people about obtaining refunds.

The I-Team reached out to the new homeowner who cashed the check, but he hung up on them. His attorney did not return calls. null
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