Cook County Board Approves Two Month Interest Deferral on August Property Tax Bill
Earlier today the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance declaring that no interest will accrue on the second installment of 2019 taxes, due on August 3, 2020, provided the taxes are paid on or before October 1, 2020. This measure, taken in light of the financial impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on the employment of homeowners as well as income producing properties, effectively creates a two-month extension from the current due date. We alerted you last week that the County was considering this action.
Cook County joins several counties throughout Illinois that have taken steps to delay the effective due dates on property tax bills. Most notably, DuPage County approved an ordinance in late April deferring the accrual of interest on the first installment tax bill for 90 days provided the June 1st installment is paid on or before August 3rd. What most of these County ordinances have in common is reliance on Section 21-40(c) of the Property Tax Code. This section allows a county board to postpone a property tax due date if 1) the President of the United States or the Governor of the State have issued a disaster declaration and 2) real property located within the disaster area has been substantially damaged or adversely affected by the disaster. Section 21-40(c) also requires that there be some procedure established for the property owner to apply to the County to demonstrate a financial hardship.
The DuPage County Board, in its ordinance, included the statutory requirement that taxpayers meet certain criteria for demonstrated hardship and apply to the County Treasurer to be eligible to receive a 90-day interest deferral on the June first installment payment. We summarized DuPage County’s four-part test for eligibility here. Notably, the Cook County ordinance does not contain any application process, and the County Board included a provision stating that the financial hardship application is waived and not required in this instance.
The second installment tax bills will still show a due date of August 3rd and there is nothing to prevent taxpayers from paying by that date. Indeed approximately 45% of the 1.75 million parcels in Cook County have taxes paid through a tax escrow. We do not have any indication whether the escrow agents will pay on the actual August 3rd due date or avail themselves of the two-month deferral period.
We will continue to monitor changes as they affect Illinois school districts and the property tax assessment, appeal, and collection process and bring you more information as it becomes available. For more information on this topic contact the authors of this alert or any other Franczek attorney.