Chicago, Sábado, 25 de Mayo de 2019

Governor Signs Exemption Fraud Legislation Developed by Assessor Berrios

Measure Estimated to Generate More than $65 Million for Taxing Bodies in the First Year.
CHICAGO – Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios announced that his exemption fraud legislation, which a nationally recognized expert estimated the County may recover $65 million for taxing bodies in the first year, was signed by Governor Quinn.
Berrios thanked the members of his staff who worked tirelessly for two and a half years on this issue. The Assessor also acknowledged the support of members of the Illinois General Assembly for their bipartisan support, especially Senator Muñoz, Representative Zalewski and the 21 other House and Senate cosponsors, along with Governor Quinn for acting quickly and signing the important measure.
The final result reflected a cooperative effort of the Cook County Assessor, the Illinois State and Chicago Bar Associations, the Suburban Township Assessors Association, the Illinois Realtors Association, the Title Insurance Industry, and Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle.  Because of this collaborative effort, the bill passed the Senate 51-0 and the House 116-0.
“This law was desperately needed, as each year honest taxpayers lose more than $65 million because people cheat or erroneously claim exemptions,” Berrios explained. “We continue to discover taxpayers who are claiming multiple exemptions and we did not have a law in place to both deter them or to help recover the money they’ve unfairly received.”
By law, a person is allowed to collect an exemption only on the home that is his or her primary residence.  This new lawwill give the Cook County Assessor the means to recoup funds from those who have improperly received homeowner, senior, disabled persons’ or disabled veterans’ exemptions.
Berrios proposed the measure shortly after taking office when his administration noticed the high volume of e-mails and anonymous phone calls complaining about people improperly receiving exemptions. In 95 percent of those cases, the claims were proven to be true.
“We receive over 1,000 anonymous allegations a year,” Berrios said. “But we’ve never had a law with any teeth to go after the cheaters.”
The new exemption fraud law will provide for the collection and distribution of unpaid property taxes, penalties and interest:
· Erroneous exemption monies recovered will be paid to the original taxing districts.
· Penalty fees will be credited to the budget of the Cook county Assessor for administrative costs.
·  Interest collected will be paid to the county.
The law also provides an amnesty for individuals who wrongly claimed an exemption. This amnesty period extends until December 31st, 2013 and will allow a person who wrongly claimed one or two erroneous exemptions prior to the 2013 tax year, to repay the amount received from the exemption(s) without penalty or interest or threat of civil and or criminal prosecution.  A taxpayer who claimed 3 or more exemptions in error is not eligible for amnesty. 
Notice of the amnesty was provided in the recently mailed second-installment tax bills and will be published in the newspaper.
The law is similar to ones in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Texas, and Arizona. It allows the chief county assessment officer to administer property tax liens on the homes of those taxpayers who have received undue property tax exemptions.
“I am extremely proud of the work and extensive research that went into the development of this new exemption fraud law.  It is sure to have a dramatic and positive impact not only on taxing bodies, but on taxpayers throughout the county,” Berrios said.