Fix to senior homestead exemption continues to be blocked

For more than 30 years, many seniors in Illinois have been eligible for a Low-Income Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption on their taxes. To qualify, a person 65 or older must be the owner of record of the property (or have legal or equitable interest in it) and must be liable for paying the real estate taxes on the property. The law allows qualified seniors to have their home’s equalized assessed value (EAV) frozen to avoid big increases in taxes due to inflation.

But to be eligible for the low-income exemption, a person must have a total household income of $65,000 or less, and lately this has been where the problem has started to come in. A recent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for seniors has pushed many Illinoisans over that $65,000 figure. But with inflation and other contributing factors, such as new EAVs of their property, some seniors are seeing their homeowners tax liability increase drastically, sometimes even doubling.

The way to solve this problem is to raise the maximum income limitation to be eligible for the exemption so that these COLAs do not push people out of eligibility. I am sponsoring legislation, House Bill 1074, which would raise the amount up to $73,700.

Unfortunately, like a lot of good ideas this spring, this bill was not allowed to advance through the process or get a vote on the House floor. This is a problem that is only going to continue to grow. We need to address it sooner rather than later.