Lawmakers Consider More Property Tax Breaks For Seniors

Jan 29, 2018

State lawmakers are looking to cut tax rates for senior citizens as Democrats and Republicans try to make local property taxes an election-year issue.

Credit FLICKR USER BILL COMSTOCK / (CC x 2.0)

Democratic state Sen. Laura Murphy of Des Plaines said the cost of owning a home in her suburban district is getting too pricey for older people.

“It’s a very common concern of seniors anxious about how they’re going to remain in their homes,” she said.

She wants more seniors to be able to claim a homestead exemption on their property taxes — raising the maximum annual income for that from $65,000 to $75,000. Another proposal would allow seniors in downstate communities to cut their home’s tax value by $7,000, up from $5,000.

But Carol Portman, president of the Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois, calls that problematic.

“By reducing the taxes of those folks a little bit, then you’re raising it for the next-door neighbors and the people across the street," she said.

Portman said every property tax reduction for one homeowner means another will have to pay that much more.

She said it gets difficult to "draw the line of who gets the benefit and who has to pay the taxes for them."

Property taxes have become a top political issue in the 2018 elections, from the race for governor on down the ballot.