Illinoisans who have struggled without paychecks because of the COVID-19 shutdown could get a delay on their property taxes. The hope is they are working again before they must pay the bill.
Thousands of Illinoisans have gone nearly two months without a paycheck or drastically reduced incomes since the coronavirus stay-at-home order was imposed March 21. As property tax bills come due, many are expected to struggle to make their payments.
Two Illinois lawmakers have introduced bills to delay property tax payments. State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, filed House Bill 5768, which would push back penalties for late property taxes by 90 days when a public health emergency causes a disaster declaration in all 102 counties. State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, filed House Bill 5772, which calls for a 90-day delay without penalties on 2019 property tax payments, which come due during the next few months.
Multiple Illinois counties have voted to delay payments to give residents relief. Kane, McHenry, DuPage, Sangamon and St. Clair counties have all provided extensions without penalties on property tax due dates.
The Cook County Board is set to vote May 21 on a proposal to waive late fees on the second round of property tax payments until Oct. 1. The treasurer’s office has heard from residents and business owners of all types about the need for relief. The last time Cook County had to adjust the property tax payment deadline by a significant margin was the Great Depression
Illinois law allows areas under a disaster declaration to waive fees and change due dates on property taxes. All 102 counties in Illinois are considered disaster areas by both the state and federal governments because of COVID-19.
Illinois homeowners again paid the nation’s second-highest property taxes, behind New Jersey, in the annual survey by WalletHub. Illinois taxes average $4,705 on a $205,000 house, the national median. This is the third consecutive year the two states ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the property tax survey.
Unsustainable growth in public pension costs is driving property taxes up and forcing local governments to cut the services people expect for their taxes. Pension liabilities have risen faster than taxpayers’ ability to pay, with the all-too-common response being new and more creative ways to tax residents.
The sustainable solution is constitutional pension reform, especially with over 1 million Illinoisans unemployed as a result of COVID-19 closing businesses. Illinois can protect public workers’ already-earned retirement benefits while slowing the accrual of future benefits not yet earned – and eliminate the need for endless property tax hikes and other taxation schemes that try but are failing to cover the nation’s highest pension debt.
State lawmakers can remove some of the uncertainty for Illinois businesses trying to recover from the pandemic by voting to remove the progressive income tax amendment from the Nov. 3 ballot. Economists uniformly agree that a recession or depression is exactly the wrong time to increase taxes.
Illinois lawmakers will be returning to Springfield for a short session on May 20 through May 22 to debate these issues, as well as the state’s fiscal year 2021 budget. Helping the state’s taxpayers and businesses survive COVID-19 needs to be their top concern.
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