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Property Tax Exemptions: Homeowners and Home Improvement

What are exemptions?

There are two main factors that determine the amount of a Cook County property tax bill:

  • The levy, or the amount of money local governments charge property owners to cover government spending
  • The value of a taxpayer’s property

Exemptions are an additional factor. They lower tax bills by modifying the equalized assessed value (EAV), or taxed value, of a home.

Who qualifies for an exemption?

There are eight categories of exemptions in Cook County:

  1. Homeowner
  2. Senior
  3. Senior Freeze
  4. Persons with disabilities
  5. Returning veterans
  6. Veterans with disabilities
  7. Long-time homeowner
  8. Home improvement

This article addresses three exemptions that are available to homeowners in general and property owners who renovate.

What is a Homeowners Exemption?

Most homeowners are eligible for a general Homeowner Exemption on their primary place of residence. Once this exemption is applied, it will automatically renew in subsequent years.

Individuals receiving the Senior Exemption automatically qualify for the Homeowner Exemption and do not need to apply for it separately.

What is a Long-time Homeowner Exemption?

A long-time homeowner is defined as a taxpayer who has owned and occupied their residence for at least ten years.

To qualify for a Longtime Homeowner exemption, the taxpayer must have a total household income of $100,000 or less, and there must have been an assessment increase on the property that exceeds the maximum amounts set by the Illinois state legislature.

This exemption is rare. Out of 1.5 million residential properties in Cook County, less than 30,000 qualify for the Long-time Homeowner Exemption. If your property is not among the 2% that qualify, it is still possible that you are eligible for the standard Homeowner Exemption. 

What is a Home Improvement Exemption?

If you complete a large home improvement project, you may be able to delay a property tax increase for at least four years. Improvements worth up to $75,000 can qualify a property for this exemption. However, there are restrictions on the type of projects that qualify. Home improvement exceptions are not granted for general upkeep or repair, landscaping, installing storm windows, or repaving a driveway.

The home improvement exemption is available to:

  • Owners of single-family homes
  • Condominiums
  • Cooperatives
  • Apartment buildings of up to six units

According to the Cook County Assessor (, their office checks the building permit for the improvement, a notice will be sent to the property owner, and the exemption is automatically applied.

How do I obtain an exemption? 

Eligibility for exemptions vary. Exemption applications require documentation to verify proof of home ownership, identify, occupancy veteran’s status, etc.

Some exemptions automatically renew from year to year. Additionally, it is possible to qualify for more than one form of exemption.

In addition to potentially being eligible for a property tax exemption, you always have the option to appeal your property taxes.

Property taxes unappealing? We can help!

Appealing your property taxes is one way to ensure that the amount you pay is fair whether you live in the north/northwest suburbs, south/southwest suburbs, or in the City of Chicago.

At present, Illinois is second only to New Jersey with the highest effective property tax rates in the United States. A 2020 study found that some Chicago area homeowners pay twice the national average in property taxes for a similarly valued home. Moreover, property tax hikes are slated for 2021.

Staying on top of your assessment notices and researching local appeal procedures can help homeowners avoid being overburdened with property taxes.

Appeal.Tax can prepare your property tax appeal and handle it from start to finish. There is no fee unless a reduction is obtained. And we only charge a small portion of the overall tax savings secured. 

Since 2015, we’ve saved Illinois property owners over $100 million in reduced property taxes. Contact Appeal.Tax today to discuss your Association, residential, or commercial property tax appeal. Tax Attorney Timothy Jacobs can be reached at 847-777-7270 or