Chicago homeowners living below 400% of the federal poverty level would be eligible for a property tax rebate under a proposal unveiled by the Council Progressive Caucus Monday afternoon at City Hall. The third property tax exemption or rebate program proposed this year, it joins plans offered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Joe Moreno (1) earlier this month.
In order to qualify for the rebate, a family of four would have to have a gross annual salary of $97,000, a family of two would have to report an annual salary of $63,000, and a single homeowner would have to have an annual salary of $47,000.
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), the lead sponsor of the tax relief plan, says the rebate would provide relief for homeowners living in communities whose property values have significantly increased over the past few years.
“You would be protected, regardless of the value of your home,” said Rosa using the example of an elderly homeowner living off a monthly Social Security check. Seniors in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods shouldn’t have to pay more in property taxes, he said.
Under the proposal authored by Ramirez-Rosa, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) and Ald. John Arena (45), the City’s Chief Financial Officer would develop an application and process for homeowners to apply for the rebate. The homeowner would apply for an application to participate in the program with the Tax Assistance Center within the City’s Budget Office. The ordinance includes a two-year sunset clause, so the city can amend the program based on participation.
The Progressive Caucus’s plan is based on an earlier property tax rebate program Mayor Richard M. Daley implemented in 2010. When challenged by reporters at yesterday’s presser that the Daley plan had a low participation rate, Waguespack said Daley’s plan was “hardly publicized” and the rebate came in the form of a cash card. It would be up to local aldermen to make sure homeowners are aware of the rebate, he said.
In addition to announcing the rebate program, Ald. Arena said the City should do more to crack down on what he said was “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in lost property tax revenue from the City’s central business districts. Accusing businesses of hiring expensive lawyers to fight property tax bills, and thus forcing homeowners to pick up the tab, Ald. Arena suggested the City’s Law Department increase the number of lawyers it has on hand to address property tax rebates submitted by city businesses.
The Progressive Caucus’ plan, as well as Ald. Joe Moreno’s (1) rebate plan for household incomes below $100,000, will be introduced at Thursday’s full City Council meeting. In a press release yesterday afternoon, the Mayor said he plans to seek an increase of existing property tax exemptions through legislation in Springfield.