(The Center Square) – For seniors on fixed incomes, paying property taxes can be the one hurdle that forces them to move or sell their home.
That’s one reason eligible seniors in Illinois can apply for property tax relief under Illinois’ Senior Citizen Real Estate Tax Deferral Program, Maura Kownacki of the Illinois Department of Revenue communications office said.
“For seniors who need assistance, it is a wonderful program,” Kownacki told The Center Square. “It provides financial security. It’s an excellent option to have.”
The program allows eligible seniors to defer up to $5,000 per tax year – including both first and second installment payments. It works like a loan with a 6% interest rate. Full or partial payments are borrowed from the state. The state pays the municipality on behalf of the homeowner. A lien is placed on the home. If the home is sold or if the owner dies, the deferred taxes and interest are paid out of the proceeds from the sale of the home.
The senior also has the option of paying off the deferred taxes early.
Illinoisans pay the second highest property taxes in the nation, on average.
The deadline to apply for the program is March 1. Kownacki advises anyone who is interested to go to visit www.tax.illinois.gov for details.
County collectors’ offices have staff who are ready to help people with the application.
To be eligible for the program, the senior needs to reach the age of 65 before June 1, 2022, and must have owned the home for a minimum of three years.
The borrower can apply for total or partial tax deferments, not exceeding $5,000 per year. The borrower’s household income cannot exceed $55,000 a year. If the husband is 65 and his younger spouse is still working, their combined incomes cannot exceed $55,000.
In order to apply, borrowers cannot have a balance of unpaid property taxes. They must retain adequate homeowner insurance against fire or casualty loss.
Interested seniors are invited to call their county collector’s office to get an application. The application must be filed with the collector’s office on or before March 1 of each year they wish to defer their property taxes or special assessments.
IDOR’s website www.tax.illinois.gov has further information.