Some Cook County taxpayers hit with sticker shock on property tax deadline day

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thursday is an important deadline for homeowners in Cook County as property taxes are due.

Residents can look up their tax bill on the treasurer's website, cookcountytreasurer.com, by using their address or 14-digit property index number.

Property owners can pay in-person at the treasurer's office, on the website or at a Chase or community bank.

"You still can beat the deadline by paying online," Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas said. "Before you pay, search $79 million in available refunds and verify your property tax exemptions, which lower the tax bill. Senior citizens are missing out on a total of $45 million in exemptions."

To pay online at the treasurer's website, select the blue box labeled "Pay Online For Free," and search by address or Property Index Number. There is no fee for paying from your bank account.

To search for refunds, select the purple box labeled "Your Property Tax Overview" and look for results under "Are There Any Overpayments on Your PIN?" or "Have You Received Your Exemptions in These Tax Years?"

Late payments are charged 1.5 percent per month.

Tax bills are up by 11 percent for the average Chicago home following new assessments. For years lower income areas were over assessed and wealthier neighborhoods were under assessed. The Cook County Assessor's Office changed its formula to level the playing field and shift the tax burden, causing some North Side residents' tax bills to go up by thousands of dollars.

Stuart Weinstein, a Cook County taxpayer, said he had to pay about $2,000 more than last year. Diana Forero Mazzanti, a Chicago taxpayer, said her bill had gone up $3,000 from the year before.

"However, my bank doesn't believe my home is worth as much as the Assessor's Office," said Mazzanti, a lifelong Lincoln Square resident. She purchased an older home 21 years ago and says she now finds herself surrounded by new, expensive homes.

"It's a catch 22, you know, because the neighborhood's improved. Unfortunately, if you still own an older home, you know, then your taxes are going to be in line, probably, with other homes," she said.

Rising property taxes are forcing some homeowners to sell, driving some longtime residents out of gentrifying city neighborhoods. Despite the recent assessment increases, David Greisling, president of the Better Government Association, says Chicago is still taxed at a lower rate compared to the suburbs.

"The economists will look at that and say there is plenty of room for Chicago to increase, but people who live in Chicago don't see it that way," he said.
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