Information for Taxpayers Whose Property Taxes Have Been Sold at a Tax Sale
By law, the Treasurer's Office cannot and does not give legal advice related to
tax sales. You are strongly advised to seek your own attorney's advice relating
to any sale of your taxes and whether you should redeem, redeem under protest, or
take other action.
If you do not have an attorney and need to consult one, you may call the Chicago
Bar Association, Attorney Referral Center at 312.554.2000, and request a referral
to an attorney who concentrates in real estate taxation.
If your taxes are sold, you have several options. While this document describes
those options, you need to seek your own legal advice in determining how to proceed.
Each option has different advantages and disadvantages.
Options if your taxes are sold: I) Redemption of Taxes, II) Seeking a Sale-in-Error
Declaration, III) Filing a Statutory "Redemption Under Protest"
I) Redemption of Taxes
Redemption of sold taxes through the Office of the Cook County Clerk is the only
way to protect your property if, and only if:
- You believe your taxes are in fact validly delinquent; and
- You do not believe your taxes were sold in error.
Again, if you believe your taxes were delinquent, and were thus properly sold, then
you need to do a simple redemption. You may redeem your taxes by going to the Cook
County Clerk's Office, ordering an "Estimate of Redemption" and then paying that
redemption bill. You need to do this as quickly as you can, as delaying may result
in additional interest, penalty and costs.
For information about redemptions, call or go to the Cook County Clerk's Office
118 North Clark Street, Room 434
Chicago, IL 60602
If you believe your taxes were not delinquent, and should not have been sold, then
you must consider options other than redemption. Those options include requesting
the sale of your taxes to be declared a sale-in-error, or redemption "under protest,"
a very specialized procedure, described hereafter.
II) Seeking a Sale-in-Error Declaration
If you feel your taxes were sold in error, please contact the Treasurer's Office
to request a sale-in-error. If it is determined that your particular case fits within
the legal grounds permitting it to seek a sale-in-error, it will proceed accordingly.
What are the grounds for a sale-in-error?
These are the grounds under state law:
- The property was not subject to taxation;
- The taxes or special assessments were paid prior to the sale of the property;
- There is a double assessment;
- The description is void for uncertainty;
- The assessor, chief county assessment officer, board of review, board of appeals,
or other county official has made an error (other than an error of judgment as to
the value of any property);
- The owner of the homestead property had tendered timely and full payment to the
county collector that the owner reasonably believed was due and owing on the homestead
property, and the county collector did not apply the payment to the homestead property;
provided that this provision applies only to homeowners, not their agents or third-party
payers (i.e. mortgage and title companies);
- Prior to the tax sale a voluntary or involuntary petition has been filed by or against
the legal or beneficial owner of the property requesting relief under the provisions
of 11 U.S.C. Chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13 (U.S. Bankruptcy Code); or
- The property is owned by the State of Illinois, a municipality or a taxing district.
What if I did not receive the certified-mail notice? Is this grounds for a sale-in-error?
No. Under the law, failure to receive notification of real-estate taxes is not grounds
for waiver of responsibility, statutory interest or exposure of unpaid
delinquencies to the tax sale.
What will the Treasurer's Office do with a request for a sale-in-error?
If the Treasurer's Office agrees that a sale-in-error request fits into one of the
above categories, it will proceed administratively, if possible, or send the request,
with appropriate documentation, to the State's Attorney for filing with the Clerk
of the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Treasurer's Office cannot tell you that
a sale-in-error will or will not be granted, as all requests may be ultimately subjected
to judicial interpretation.
How long will the court proceeding take?
The court proceeding could take as long as a year, or more, before an order is entered.
If the Treasurer's Office is able to perform an administrative sale-in-error, the
time period will be shorter, as this process may not require a court order if the
tax buyer consents.
For information about, or to request a sale-in-error, contact the Cook County Treasurer's
118 North Clark Street, Room 112
Chicago, IL 60602
III) Filing a Statutory "Redemption Under Protest"
You may "redeem your taxes under protest," which preserves your right to claim that
your taxes were improperly sold, and should you lose that argument, will redeem
your taxes, thus preserving your title. You can only redeem under protest after
the tax purchaser has filed a petition (court case) for a tax deed on your PIN.
The result of a favorable ruling for the taxpayer would be that the sale was in
error. In that case, the taxpayer would be liable only for the amount of taxes and
late payment statutory interest, if any, that were due, but not the extra redemption
costs; the tax purchaser would receive a refund of the monies paid for the taxes
and statutory sale costs at the sale.
How does one redeem under protest?
In order to redeem under protest, the property owner needs to submit a deposit for
redemption with the Cook County Clerk along with three copies of a form (to be filed
with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County) containing the following information:
- Identification of the redeemer's name and address;
- Identification of the property by volume number and PIN or legal description of
- Case number of the proceeding by the tax purchaser for tax deed;
- Identification of the parameters of the sale through the original amount of tax,
amount deposited for redemption, tax year included in judgment, date of sale, expiration
date of the period of redemption, and the name of the tax deed petitioner; and
- All reasons for which the protest is being filed; reasons not included will not
be considered by the court.
If you need assistance with this form, you need to contact your attorney, as the
Clerk's Office cannot assist you.