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Legislation Crafted by Assessor Berrios Brings Greater Benefits to Seniors and Many Other Homeowners

The percentage of money-saving discounts is most significant on their property tax bills 


CHICAGO –Homeowners most in need of property tax relief are getting it as a result of legislation conceived by Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios.

This was not a recent concept, as Assessor Berrios began his effort more than a year ago. The result was Senate Bill 473 (Public Act 100-0401), which he helped pass through the General Assembly; it became law in August and begins with Tax Year 2017. The additional savings will appear on second-installment tax bills mailed next year and in all succeeding eligible years.

The Exemptions Program, long supported, furthered and championed by Assessor Berrios, helps achieve the common goal of reducing regressivity and increasing progressivity in the property tax system. A recent study by the nonpartisan “Lincoln Institute of Land Policy” concluded clearly that exemptions are major factors in accomplishing this.

"These expanded exemption savings further shift property taxes away from the lower-market and lower-middle-market and onto the upper-market. We started working on this in 2016 after I listened to homeowners at Assessor's Office outreach seminars and shared my ideas with them. This continues my commitment to communities and homeowners who need some relief." Berrios said.

Berrios emphasized, “Flat-amount deductions may be a ‘drop in the bucket’ for a $600,000 to $1 million-plus home, but they represent a very sizeable percentage off the Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) of lower-market and medium-market homes.”

Berrios consulted with legislators and proposed expanding the exemption savings. The bill, sponsored by Senator Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago) and Representative Robert Martwick (D-Chicago), received bipartisan support and was designed to increase tax-saving exemption amounts for homeowners and seniors and have the greatest positive impact on lower-income homeowners. It also expands eligibility for the Senior Freeze Exemption.

“This new law helps all homeowners, especially senior citizens and others most in need of relief,” Assessor Berrios said. “We sought to have this legislation proposed and we thank everyone who helped make that happen. Specifically, our sincere appreciation goes to Senator Munoz, Representative Martwick and all co-sponsors. It was gratifying to see it pass both chambers of the General Assembly and even more so to now see it is law.”

The Cook County Assessor's Office (CCAO) administers numerous exemptions that are subtracted from a home's EAV, resulting in deductions from the dollar amount of a tax bill. The new law increases exemption savings for the Homeowner and Senior Citizen Exemptions. Its enhancement and expansion of eligibility for the Senior Freeze Exemption does more to continue helping to keep fixed-income seniors from being taxed out of their homes.

The Homeowner Exemption, available to eligible taxpayers/residents of any age on their primary home, increases from $7,000 to $10,000 in EAV. The Senior Exemption, for taxpayers/residents 65 years or older, regardless of income, increases from $5,000 to $8,000 in EAV. It is important to note that the exemption amount is not the dollar amount by which a tax bill is lowered. EAV is the partial value of a property to which tax rates are applied; it is this figure on which a tax bill is calculated. The Assessor does not set tax rates.

In addition, the Senior Freeze Exemption for low-income seniors expands eligibility by increasing allowable total household income to $65,000, from the previous limit of $55,000. There is also a new minimum $2,000 EAV deduction for the Senior Freeze, which will help offset increases in assessed value and help ensure that more seniors benefit from the Senior Freeze Exemption.  

“I will continue advocating for property tax relief for all homeowners especially seniors and lower-income families to ensure no one pays more than their fair share of taxes,” Berrios said.

All exemptions and corresponding savings appear on each year's Second-Installment Tax Bills. For additional information regarding exemptions, please contact CCAO at 312-443-7550 or visit the Assessor’s web site at (


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