Property taxes: Cook County property owners may see future tax bills lowered, but many seek immediate relief

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Residents of Illinois' largest county may get property tax relief in the future, but it's little help to those who are still struggling to pay their bills due at the beginning of March.

Maywood resident Laverne Perkins was unable to pay her $2,000 tax bill in full on March 1, so she's been hit with a 1.5% interest rate each month.

The COVID-19 lockdown will prevent her from paying it off any time soon.

"If they would put a moratorium on the taxes for now, maybe waive the late charges, maybe push back the due date. Just some things to give us some relief right now," Perkins said.

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has yet to announce whether property owners will have their spring interest rates and late fees eliminated or whether the August property tax bill will be delayed. Some collar counties have made these changes to help property owners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Preckwinkle has not yet responded to ABC7's request for comment.

But the Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi is taking action.

"We stopped sending out assessments based on the pre-COVID world. We want to make sure the assessments are as reflective as what is going on out there in the market," Kaegi said.

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His office is "re-assessing" all of Cook County, since the county was declared a "major disaster area" due to COVID-19. That could mean big relief to nearly 2 million property owners next year.

"We know that COVID-19 has dramatically affected people's employment on all sorts of business, and that will only naturally have an effect on real estate prices," Kaegi told the ABC7 I-Team. "In commercial properties, the ones that are most impacted by changing foot traffic and people's willingness to engage in personal contact in the future."

Property owners could see their bills lowered next year.

"It will depend on each person's situation," Kaegi said. "We always have to remember that people's tax bills reflect assessments, but they also reflect local government's needs."

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That could be good news for Perkins in the future, but right now, she's hoping for relief with her current bill's late fees.

"Have mercy on us and give us some relief. You see what we are going through. You see we are going through a financial crisis," Perkins told the I-Team.

This full county reassessment is a big undertaking. The assessor's office typically evaluates a third of property values each year.
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