Property Tax Relief Package in Response to COVID-19 Signed

The property tax relief language was contained in SB 685, which was supported by Rep. Weber, and passed the General Assembly during the May special session.  Responding to the cash-flow crunches being faced by many Illinois households, the legislature took action on a bipartisan basis to temporarily stop counties from offering up delinquent properties for tax sale.  Under this new law, the annual tax sale that would ordinarily be held in calendar year 2020, to bring in money on delinquent parcels of real property, shall be held no earlier than the first month after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.  This tax-sale suspension applies to all 101 counties of Illinois other than Cook County, which has taken such action on its own.  Delinquent properties will continue to accumulate back taxes, interest, and penalties.  

An additional key provision of SB 685 reduces paperwork burdens on senior citizens and persons with disabilities by providing for the automatic rollover of a property taxpayer’s status to enjoy certain exemptions and senior-freeze rights with respect to their homesteads.  If a property qualified for any of these exemptions in the 2019 taxable year, it will continue to qualify in the 2020 taxable year without time-consuming re-application paperwork.  SB 685, in its final form, was approved unanimously by the House. The bill was signed into law on Friday, June 5.

SB 685 fell short of property tax relief at the level that many House Republicans supported.  For example, HB 5772, sponsored by Rep. Joe Sosnowski, GOP spokesperson for the House Revenue and Finance Committee, would have created a 90-day property tax payment holiday throughout Illinois.  In response to the sharp personal income declines of the current pandemic, HB 5772 would have said that each Illinois property tax bill would have been due 90 days later than the date payments would otherwise have been required to have been made.  Together with other House Republican COVID-19 relief proposals, HB 5772 was bottled up by the majority party and was not released for a vote.