Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi collected $15 million over the past three years from Chicagoans who were not eligible for tax exemptions they had claimed.
Of the $5.1 million collected in 2021, $3.5 million was paid to schools, parks, libraries and first responders, the assessor’s office said in a release. About $4.6 million was gathered in 2020 and $6 million the previous year. More than a thousand non-eligible people’s benefits were removed, the office added.
“As the Cook County assessor, one of my most important jobs is to ensure property tax savings exemptions only go to those who qualify,” said Assessor Kaegi. “The refunds they’ve [Erroneous Exemptions Investigations Department] collected contribute to lowering property taxes for residents and business owners,” he said.
People with disabilities, seniors older than 65, and property owners who live in their home as a primary residence are eligible for tax savings. Common findings were households that no longer meet the income requirements or receive exemptions on dual properties, according to the assessor’s office.
Kaegi, who is finishing his third year as assessor, promised to shake up the assessor’s office, which was accused of favoring commercial landlords over less wealthy homeowners under the leadership of former assessor Joe Berrios.
Kaegi’s recent property assessments in North Chicago infuriated non-residential property owners. Commercial properties account for 62 percent of all assessed value last year, up from
54 percent in 2018. Residential properties represent 38 percent, down from 46 percent four years ago.