Metro-East legislators push for property tax breaks

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By CARL GREEN

Illinois Correspondent

Springfield, IL – Illinois homeowners could get substantial breaks on their property taxes if a bill being promoted by a bipartisan group of legislators including southern Illinois Labor supporters is passed and signed.

House Bill 156 would increase the General Homestead Exemption for all homeowners to $8,000 from the current $6,000 in most counties and the current $7,000 in Cook County. So, a downstate home with an $80,000 valuation would get a 10 percent tax break. Homes with lower valuations would get a higher percentage, and those with higher valuations would get a smaller percentage break.

The bill also would increase the additional exemption for homeowners over 65 from $5,000 to $6,000. Taxes would be frozen for disabled homeowners receiving Supplemental Security Income.

Homeowners who have owned their houses for more than eight years and earn less than $100,000 would get additional tax breaks based on how long they have had their houses. For instance, those with 21 years or more would get an additional 60 percent of the General Homestead Exemption, or $4,800, for a total exemption of $12,800.

Also, the bill includes a $2,500 exemption for veterans over 75 years old or who have a 20-30 percent disability.

PASSED 108-1

The House passed HB 156 on a vote of 108-1, although six Republicans were excused or did not vote, indicating some reluctance to sign onto a tax break proposed by Democrats. The bill had 46 sponsors in the House, but only six were Republicans. No action had yet been taken in the Senate.

Sponsors from the Metro-East were Jay Hoffman of Swansea, Katie Stuart of Edwardsville, LaToya Greenwood of East St. Louis, Dan Beiser of Alton, Brandon Phelps of Harrisburg and Jerry Costello II of Red Bud, all Democrats.

Beiser gave this case for the tax breaks: “Middle-class families and seniors are trying to do more with less,” he said. “Every year, they see school fees, health costs, grocery bills and property taxes increase. It makes it very difficult for families trying to plan for the future, but one thing we can do is to help lower property taxes and provide relief for some of that pressure.”

COME BACK,GOVERNOR

“Governor Rauner has said that providing property tax relief to homeowners is one of his top priorities,” Beiser added. “This legislation does just that. I hope he sees that legislators are willing to work with him to get things done, while fighting for families in our community. I urge the governor to come back to the negotiating table and work with us as we try to move the state forward.”

Added Stuart: “As I go door-to-door, I hear from residents who are concerned that the ever-increasing property taxes will drive their families from our communities. The Metro East has a lot to offer, and keeping this an affordable area for seniors and young families is very important.”

The Illinois School Board Association described the legislation to its members but did not indicate a position for or against the bill, nor did the Illinois Municipal League.

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