SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed House Bill 4789 into law, to help thousands of Illinois seniors remain in their homes by expanding and protecting property tax relief previsions. The bill increases the value of the Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption and expands eligibility for the Senior Citizens Real Estate Tax Deferral Program. The bill also reauthorizes the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption, allowing thousands of seniors in Illinois to get up to $600 a year in property tax relief.
“Thousands of seniors are financially stretched enough as it is. The last thing they need are higher property taxes, especially since they live on fixed incomes. This bill will give seniors some much deserved peace of mind, so they don’t have to worry about increasing taxes on their homes,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The legislation reauthorizes the Seniors Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption statute that the Illinois Supreme Court struck down in the Olender case. Under the Assessment Freeze, eligible seniors have the assessed value of their home frozen at the value it has in the year they apply. This means that seniors are protected from property tax hikes resulting from higher home values in their communities.
HB 4789 provides the following property tax relief for senior citizens in Illinois:
- Increases income eligibility for the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption from $45,000 to $50,000 with a declining value for the exemption for seniors over $45,000. This will help an estimated 15,000 seniors who will receive $600 a year in property tax relief. It also reinstates the whole program for the 320,000 seniors who were currently eligible for it.
- Increases the Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption from $3,000 to $3,500 in 2006. This will help almost 700,000 senior citizens save approximately an additional $35 a year on their 2006 property taxes.
- Increases income eligibility for the Senior Citizens Real Estate Tax Deferral program from $40,000 to $50,000.
“Property tax relief is critical to seniors as many fear being priced out of their neighborhoods. Retaining the family home is often the only way to maintain their independence so this law is important support,” noted Donna Ginther, Manager of State Legislative Affairs for American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
HB 4789, sponsored by Rep. Robert Flider (D-Decatur) and Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) becomes effective immediately.
“Senior citizens’ ability to remain in their own homes is a critical part of maintaining their independence,” Rep. Flider said. “These property tax exemptions are too important to not preserve. Seniors have worked hard, paid taxes and played by the rules their entire lives, and as they enter their golden years, many need a helping hand. This law allows them to continue receiving tax relief they have enjoyed for more than a decade.”
“We moved quickly to calm the fears that our seniors had about their ability to keep their homes without the support of the property tax assessment freeze,” said Sen. Harmon
Seniors with questions about their property taxes should contact their local assessors or visit the Illinois Department of Revenue’s website at tax.Illinois.gov for more information.