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One of the biggest complaints I hear is that property taxes are too high. There are actually legal ways to reduce your property taxes. Through the years the legislature has created some Exemptions for property owners. The following list came from the Sangamon C0unty Supervisor of Assessments website (http://www.co.sangamon.il.us/departments/review.asp). You can find this and other valuable information on the county website. Here are the allowable exemptions.

Owner Occupied Homestead Exemptions
” Homestead Property” under this definition includes residential property that is occupied by its owner(s) as his/her, (their), principal dwelling place. Ownership may be established by deed, will, contract or lease, which makes you responsible for the payment of the real estate taxes. The official application form, or an approved facsimile, must be completed in its entirety and filed with the Sangamon County Supervisor of Assessments to receive an exemption.

General Homestead Exemption: Upon application, owner occupied homestead property qualifies for the General Homestead Exemption from the date of owner/occupancy. This exemption amounts to a reduction of the equalized assessed value of up to $6,000. The exemption amount is calculated by subtracting the equalized assessed value in 1977 from the present equalized assessed value and may be prorated from date of occupancy to December 31, (if not owner/occupied on January 1. The deadline to make application for this exemption is January 31 for the tax year. To simplify this, if you own and occupy the property in 2010, you have until 1/31/2011 to file an application for the General Homestead Exemption for the 2010 payable in 2011 real estate taxes. This exemption does not transfer, meaning if you buy a new property and you move to that property, you are required to make application for the exemption to be applied to the new residence and subsequently, the exemption will be removed from the old residence. There is no annual renewal required for this exemption.
• Application for General Homestead Exemption

Homestead Improvement Exemption: This exemption allows an owner occupied residence to be improved to an extent that the fair market value of the residence increases by up to $75,000 without an increase to the property taxes attributable to that new improvement for up to four years. Improvements include: room additions, new garages or out buildings, new bathrooms, decks or porches. Repairs to a structure damaged by a catastrophic event may also be covered by this exemption. This exemption does not cover maintenance or repair due to normal “wear and tear” or age. Also not included are improvements used for farm or business purposes. The deadline to make application for this exemption is January 31 of the tax year. To simplify this, if you are sent a 2010 assessment change notice listing a reason for change of ‘Improvement Added’, or if you have recently completed an improvement to your residence, you may make application for this exemption up to January 31, 2011.
Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption: The qualifications for this exemption are the same as for the General Homestead Exemption with the additional requirement that the owner/occupant must be age 65 or over during that calendar year. This exemption reduces the taxable equalized assessed value by $4,000. Application for this exemption must be made by January 31 of the tax year, (Same as the General Homestead Exemption). The applicant must supply documentation supporting ownership and proof of age. This includes the deed to the property, contract, lease or will, and a state issued drivers license, I.D. or birth certificate.
Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption: The qualifications for this exemption are the same as for the Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption with the additional requirements of: A maximum total household annual income of $55,000 or less and owner occupancy on January 1 for at least one year prior to application, meaning: in order to make application in 2010, the property must have been owned and occupied by the applicant on January 1, 2009 (base year). This exemption, in effect, freezes the assessment at the base year value, protecting the senior homeowner from increases in property taxes due to equalization or reassessment. This exemption does not prevent increased assessments due to new construction or improvements made to the property. First time applicants are required to submit, with the application, a copy of their Federal Income Tax Return or copies of the earning statements, such as Social Security, bank interest or pensions. Applications for this exemption must be filed annually and forms are available in our office between April 1 and July 1 each year. The deadline to file application for the Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption is July 1 each year.
Disabled Veterans’ Homestead Exemption: Application for this exemption is made through the IL Department of Veterans Affairs. Disabled veteran means a person who has served in the Armed Forces of the United States and whose disability is of such nature that the Federal Government has authorized payment for the purchase or construction of Specially Adapted Housing as set forth in the United States Code, Title 38, Chapter 21. Property owned and occupied exclusively by a disabled veteran, the spouse or unmarried surviving spouse of the veteran, assessed up to an amount of $70,000 is exempt. This exemption applies to housing that is specially adapted to accommodate the veteran’s disability. A person who has claimed this exemption may not receive either the Disabled Veterans’ Standard Homestead Exemption or the Disabled Persons’ Homestead Exemption.
Disabled Veterans’ Standard Homestead Exemption: The qualifications for this exemption are the same as for the General Homestead Exemption with the additional requirement that the home is owner/occupied on January 1, the owner/occupant is an IL resident who has served as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, IL National Guard or U.S. Reserve Forces and not dishonorably discharged. Have at least a 50% service-connected disability certified by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. A copy of the documentation of disability from the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs is required to be filed with the application. This exemption reduces the taxable assessed value by either $5,000 for at least a 75% service-related disability or a reduction of $2,500 for at least a 50% but less than 75% service-related disability. Application must be made by January 31 of the tax year. A person who has claimed this exemption may not receive either the Disabled Veterans’ Homestead Exemption or the Disabled Persons’ Homestead Exemption.
• Application for Disabled Veterans’ Standard Homestead Exemption

• Annual Renewal Form for Disabled Veteran’s Standard Homestead Exemption

Disabled Persons’ Homestead Exemption: The qualifications for this exemption are the same as for the General Homestead Exemption with the additional requirement that the home is owner/occupied on January 1, the owner/occupant is able to provide the following documentation as proof of disability: A Class 2 or 2A IL Disabled Person Identification Card from the IL Secretary of State’s Office, current year proof of Social Security Administration disability benefits, current year proof of Veterans Administration disability benefits showing 100% disability, or current year proof of Railroad or Civil Service disability benefits such as an award letter of total (100%) disability. If these items can not be provided, submission of form PTAX 343-A may be made annually as certification of disability. This exemption requires annual renewal and reduces the taxable assessed value by $2,000. Application must be made by January 31 of the tax year. A person who has claimed this exemption may not receive either the Disabled Veterans’ Homestead Exemption or the Disabled Veterans’ Standard Homestead Exemption.
• Application for Disabled Persons’ Homestead Exemption

• Annual Renewal Form for Disabled Persons’ Homestead Exemption

Returning Veterans’ Homestead Exemption: The qualifications for this exemption are the same as for the General Homestead Exemption with the additional requirement that the home is owner/occupied on January 1 of the tax year, the owner/occupant is an IL resident who has served/is serving as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, IL National Guard or U.S. Reserve Forces and returned from active duty in an armed conflict involving the U.S. Armed Forces. Application must be made during the same year that the veteran returns home from active duty. This is a one year exemption that reduces the taxable assessed value by $5,000.
• Application for Returning Veterans’ Homestead Exemption

Application forms for all of the above exemptions, (except the Disabled Veterans Exemption) are available in the office of the Supervisor of Assessments, in Room 210 of the Sangamon County Complex. Office hours are 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, except on legal holidays, when the County Complex is closed. When filing an application for property tax exemption, if a file stamped copy is not offered, the property owner or their agent should request one.

Ihave to admit, I once purchased a home and forgot to file for the Homestead Exemption. It cost me several hundred dollars. Don’t let that happen to you.


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