Senior Citizens' Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption
Statutory Citation: 35 ILCS 200/15-172
Who is eligible?
To qualify you must:
- establish age, ownership and residency, by applying for the Senior Homestead Exemption.
- have a total household income (before deductions) of $55,000 or less for the calendar year prior the application year.
- own and occupy the property on or before January 1st of the application year and prior base year.
- be liable for payment of real estate taxes on the property.
In some cases, the surviving spouse of an eligible senior citizen may qualify.
How do I apply?
Eligible senior taxpayers must complete an application/affidavit. This form must be signed and notarized. Income from all household members needs to be itemized and totaled. For 2010, pay 2011 tax year eligibility, the senior taxpayer must complete an application showing 2009 household income.
All information acquired from the application is confidential and may be used only for official purposes. The deadline to file the application is October 1st. Each year, the Supervisor of Assessments will mail annual renewal applications to those senior taxpayers currently eligible for the assessment freeze. You may obtain an application by contacting our office at (630) 407-5858 or you may download the form directly from our ‘Forms and Documents’ webpage.
What benefit does this provide?
The Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption provides seniors with limited income protection against real estate tax increases due to rising property values. It is not a tax freeze or a tax reduction and does not protect against increased taxes due to tax rate increases. Because this exemption provides for a base year frozen assessment, it will potentially provide increased savings each year a senior is eligible. The base assessment used in the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption initially equals the assessed value from the prior year tax calculation. In subsequent years, if the new assessed value is lower than their original base value, the new lower value becomes the new base amount. This is assuming the assessment reduction is not the result of a temporary adjustment because of a physical property change such as a fire or flood adjustment.
If a senior no longer qualifies for the Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption, taxes will then be based on the current "non-freeze" property assessment.
For information on a separate program available to lower income seniors see the center section titled "Senior Citizens' Tax Deferral Program".
Neither the Senior Homestead Exemption nor the Tax Freeze Homestead Exemption requires the repayment of tax savings.
Special Note: Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption in a Declining Real Estate Market
Why are my taxes going up when I have the Senior Freeze?
The Senior Freeze Exemption is a significant benefit to seniors and becomes more valuable from year to year during times of increasing assessments. However, in the current declining market, many seniors find themselves losing some or all of the benefit from the Freeze and, as a result, paying substantially more in taxes.
The Senior Freeze Exemption does:
Freeze the taxable value of your property
Stabilize property taxes in an increasing market
The Senior Freeze Exemption does NOT:
Freeze your tax bill
Freeze the tax rate
The current declining market is having two effects on the tax bills of seniors with the Senior Freeze Exemption.
The Senior Freeze Exemption Amount decreases in a declining market. In a declining market, as assessments go down, the difference between the base year assessment and the current year assessment also goes down, thereby decreasing the amount of the Freeze exemption. If the current year assessment actually falls below the base year value, there is no exempt value to be deducted from the assessment and no benefit from the exemption. While the new lower value does become the adjusted base year value, it will only be beneficial when the market recovers and assessments begin to increase.
Tax Rates are increasing in the current declining market. The tax rate is nothing more than a calculation; total funds requested by the taxing body (the Levy) divided by the total assessed value in the jurisdiction. As assessments go down – if taxing body spending stays the same or increases – tax rates go up. Last year the assessed value of DuPage County decreased by 6.9% and tax rates increased, on average, by 9.1%.
As a result, many seniors with the Freeze now find themselves with dramatically increasing property taxes. Their Senior Freeze Exemption amount is reduced or even zero and their tax rate is higher. And unfortunately the Senior Freeze exemption will only be beneficial again when assessments begin going up.