Cook Co. homeowners line up to pay overdue tax bills before auction

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It was a race against time Friday as Cook County property owners swarmed the treasurer's office trying to meet a tax deadline that's been moved up to Monday.

Anyone who misses the new deadline could have their property tax bill sold at auction.

Every person waiting in line has a story.

And the long line at the Cook County Treasurer's Office lasted all day as homeowners tried to pay their overdue property taxes before a Monday deadline.

"This is heartbreak day in government. This is not the day you want to come to work because... you just need the tissues today. This is sad," said Maria Pappas, Cook County treasurer.

Homeowners were caught off-guard by a shortened grace period. So on Monday, delinquent tax bills go up for auction. Tax buyers purchase the bills, so homeowners would owe the buyer the taxes, plus high interest.

Several people here have elderly loved ones who need help.

"I'm checking to make sure she don't lose her property. We don't want that to happen," said Elnora Davis, who was paying taxes for her 88-year-old aunt.

"I was cleaning out my grandmother's room," said Aisha Jakes. "She was diagnosed with dementia... and I was able to find the letter that was hidden under her pillow actually."

In fact, when it comes to homeowners, about 5,550 people owe less than $1,000. About 2,300 owe less than $500; and 448 people owe less than $200.

"I'm concerned somebody can buy my house," said James Cook. "Right out from under me for $123.47."

"I had to borrow some of this money because I didn't want to pay that high interest. It did take me by surprise," said Zedrick Richardson.

On Thursday, the state House passed a bill to move Monday's tax bill auction until August. Now, it's a question of whether the state Senate will address the issue next week.

"Every bill has to pass both chambers," said Senate President John Cullerton. "The House took the initiative there... if they're able to pass legislation, we'll take it up then."

Phone: 773-940-2213


Phone: 312-630-1157

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.


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