Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios on Friday announced that his office has mailed out Senior Citizen Exemption applications for the 2012 property tax bills.

 Nearly 300,000 applications were mailed Friday to seniors who received the exemption last year, Berrios said. The exemption is being sent earlier than previous years, because Berrios wants to make sure all eligible seniors apply in time to receive their savings.

“We need everyone to be on the lookout for these important applications in the mail,” he said. “Seniors need to remember that under Illinois law, they must re-apply for this exemption to receive an annual reduction in their property taxes.”

The Senior Exemption application is part of a booklet mailed to eligible seniors. The booklet also contains the income-based Senior Freeze application.

To qualify for the Senior Citizen Exemption for the taxable year 2012, the property owner must have:

  • Been born prior to or in the year 1947,
  • Owned the property, or have a lease or contract which makes them responsible for the real estate taxes, and
  • Used the property as a principal place of residence.

Eligible seniors who have never applied for the senior exemptions in the past may visit the Assessor’s website atwww.cookcountyassessor.com and download an application or contact the Assessor’s office and request a form be mailed to them.

“Just because you don’t qualify for the Senior Freeze doesn’t mean you aren’t eligible for the Senior Exemption,” Berrios said. “Income level is irrelevant for the exemption, but I’m concerned that seniors won’t understand that, and discard the entire booklet and not receive the savings to which they are entitled.”

The Senior Exemption provides tax relief by reducing the equalized assessed valuation of an eligible residence.

This savings is in the form of a deduction on the second-installment property tax bill issued in the summer. Seniors receiving the Senior Exemption automatically qualify for the Homeowner Exemption, and do not have to apply for it separately. However, Berrios noted, if they fail to reapply for the Senior Exemption, the Homeowner Exemption will not be applied to the bill.

The Senior Freeze also must be applied for on an annual basis.

To qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption for the taxable year 2012, taxpayers

must have:

  • Been born prior to or in the year 1947,
  • A total household income of $55,000 or less for income tax year 2011,
  • Owned the property or had a legal, equitable or leasehold interest in the property on January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012,
  • Used the property as a principal place of residence as of January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012, and
  • Been liable for the payment of 2011 and 2012 property taxes.
Under Illinois law, Seniors Must Reapply Annually

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