Several Illinois counties are offering economic relief to property owners affected by the state’s stay-at-home order. According to the Illinois property tax code (35 ILCS 200/21-40), county governments in designated disaster areas may pass ordinances or regulations to temporarily modify the tax collections aid in recovery efforts. These modifications may include extending due dates, waiving penalties, and suspending interest. Illinois law gives each county the independence to declare or decline the optional adjustments. Therefore, county responses vary widely.
Every county in Illinois is considered a disaster area due to Coronavirus Disease 2019. At Governor J.B. Pritzker’s request, President Donald J. Trump declared the State of Illinois a major disaster area affected by the COVID-19 pandemic on March 26, 2020.
DuPage County has suspended interest and late fees for 90 days (September 1) for residents who demonstrate financial hardship resulting directly from COVID-19.
In Kane County, late fees will be waived on property tax payments due on June 1 if paid by July 1. However, this waiver does not apply to third party payments, including tax payments held in escrow by mortgage lenders.
Property owners in McHenry County have 90 additional days to make tax payments without incurring interest or late fees. This waiver does not apply to third-party payers, including mortgage lenders.
Sangamon County postponed due dates for property taxes from June 12 to September 12. The stated purpose of the delay was to ensure residents had time to collect unemployment, stimulus payments, or other forms of relief.
St. Clair County delayed mailing property tax bills until June 15 and postponed due dates until July 30 and September 30. The County declared a willingness to push these dates back more if the county continues to suffer under economic hardship.
Not all counties can afford to postpone collecting tax revenues. Cook County, Illinois’ most populous county, is not changing deadlines or penalties.
Lake County has not delayed deadlines or waived penalties. Tax payments are still due on June 8.
More counties in Illinois may decide to postpone property tax deadlines or waive fees and penalties. Adam Schuster, Director of Budget and Tax Research, proposes that the State of Illinois use emergency borrowing powers to finance a state-wide delay in property taxes. This solution would provide counties the revenue needed to function without burdening taxpayers already struggling.