State Rep. Elgie Sims, D-Chicago, is fighting to give Cook County homeowners additional time to pay their property taxes, responding to concerns raised by taxpayers and community leaders. Sims passed legislation through the House Thursday to protect local taxpayers from costly fees and penalties that would hit 50,000 Cook County residents next month.
“Springfield must understand and work to resolve problems facing working families, elderly residents living on fixed incomes and taxpayers across Chicago and throughout Cook County,” Sims said. “These homeowners desperately want to pay their tax bills, but they need time. With this legislation, I’m calling on the state to work with, not against hard working taxpayers by giving them additional time to pay their property tax bills.”
Sims’ House Bill 155 gives struggling homeowners an additional four months to pay their most recent tax bills, returning to the same period as was available in previous years, before an individual’s property taxes are sold to a tax buyer, adding costly new fees on top of the original tax bill. If the taxes are purchased, families could eventually lose their homes if they are unable to meet the terms imposed by the tax buyer.
In previous years, lawmakers have provided struggling Cook County homeowners with additional time to avoid a tax sale. However no such extension currently exists for the most recent series of tax bills. As a result, the taxes of 50,000 Cook County residents could be sold as early as next week. Alarmingly, the Cook County Treasurer’s Office reports that they have been unable to notify approximately 10,000 of these taxpayers of the impending sale.
Sims’ House Bill 155 would delay the sale until August, giving taxpayers more time to catch up. Various community and elected leaders have urged lawmakers to take action on behalf of these homeowners, many of which live on fixed incomes or are struggling to make installment payments.
“Property taxes in Chicago and Cook County are higher than ever, so it’s important we give homeowners the time necessary to make their payments,” Sims said. “I’m calling on the Governor and the Senate to join us in taking immediate action on this bill, while we still have time to protect struggling homeowners from new penalties and the risk of losing their homes.”