A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Cook County Homeowner Exemption: Do You Have It?

Note: This page has been updated as of 9/30/16. If you’re looking for information about appealing your assessed valuation, I have posted some resources and blogged about my experience here.

We were out for dinner last night with some friends who recently put their Evanston condo on the market. Their realtor wanted to know what their property taxes were for last year and also wanted to make sure they had their Homeowners Exemption, which is a reduction in the assessed valuation of your home and decreases the property taxes for owner-occupied residences here in Cook County.

We’ve known about this for years, because we used to have to send in a postcard to the Assessor’s office each year certifying we owned and occupied our home (nowadays you only have to fill out a form once). But as first-time homeowners, our friends had no idea this existed, another friend who owns a condo in Chicago didn’t know, and our previous owner, who lived here most of his life, had never applied for it!

I’m not sure why some people know and others don’t, so I want to spread the word to all Cook County homeowners: don’t pay more property taxes than absolutely necessary!

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-4-55-46-pmIt’s very easy to file. First, search for your property via your PIN, or Property Identification Number right from the Cook County Assessor home page, or if you don’t know it or can’t find it (it would be on your property tax bill), you can also search by address.

Once you find your address, click on the Exemptions tab to see if the Homeowner Exemption has been applied. If not, there should be a link to apply online or download a PDF of the Homeowner/Senior Citizen Exemption form here (yes, if you or your spouse is 65 or older, you can receive an additional discount on your taxes).

Now, if you’ve been living in your home for several years or more but didn’t have the Homeowner Exemption, the good news is you can file a Homeowner Exemption Certificate of Error Application for the past three years (fill out one form for each year) and you’ll (eventually) receive a check from the Cook County Treasurer. The bad news is if you’ve lived there a long time, you lose out on retrieving that money past the three-year mark. (If you’re over 65 and didn’t know about the Senior Exemption, you can file a Certificate of Error for up to 3 previous years by downloading the PDF here.)

The dollar amount will vary, based on the assessed valuation of your home, so I can’t tell you how much you’ll receive, but if I help just one person reading this save some money I’ll be very happy!



  1. Nicole on June 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    VERY sound advice. We have one in our downstate county, too, and we didn’t know that the mother hadn’t been getting her senior exemption until after half the taxes had been paid last year! (Had to file for a corrected tax bill. It was easy and SO worth it!)

  2. Bettie Tuck on July 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    What a nice gesture to go to the trouble and report something like this. I only know one person in Chicago; not sure if it is Cook County, but I will forward document I printed out to my friend. Thanks so much for looking out for others.

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