Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas unveiled a new program that allows seniors, the disabled and other residential taxpayers to request pre-tax sale phone calls or to have duplicate delinquency notices mailed to a relative, neighbor or friend they trust to help them.
Pappas said the optional program was designed to provide taxpayers with another safeguard against the possible loss of property through the tax sale. Under Illinois law, the Treasurer's Office must offer delinquent taxes at the annual tax auction after publishing notices in area newspapers and sending letters by certified mail to the last known taxpayers of record.
"We now go above and beyond the law by sending early delinquency notices. But letting people ask to receive a phone call or have third-party notices will provide more lifelines if a taxpayer falls ill, is unable to read or understand a notice, or is out of town for an extended period," Pappas said.
Taxpayers now may file their phone number and/or the address of another person they trust. The information will be used to create a database of taxpayers whose properties will be checked before the start of every tax sale.
"It is my hope that these designated adult children, neighbors or community organizations will follow up with the property owner to make sure that the taxpayer understands the urgency of satisfying any delinquency," Pappas said.
Taxpayers also will have the option of terminating or updating their designations as they see fit. Taxpayers may obtain information by calling (312) 443-5100 or by visiting the main office in Room 112 of 118 N. Clark St., in Chicago, or by visiting one of the satellite offices in Markham or Rolling Meadows. The program also will be featured in Pappas' senior-outreach program.
Pappas noted that in the interest of protecting privacy, only those who ask for the service will have duplicate notices sent to a designated "lifeline." Also, if seniors have unlisted phone numbers, it is important that they submit the number if they want a reminder call. Any phone numbers submitted will be held confidential and used for tax-notification purposes only.
As Cook County Treasurer, Pappas oversees collections and distributions of more than $7.5 billion a year in real estate taxes for more than 1,000 local school systems, libraries, park districts, municipalities, townships and other public health and safety agencies. Cook County's is the second-largest real-estate tax collection operation in the United States.