ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) is reminding eligible taxpaying senior citizens to take advantage of the Senior Citizens Real Estate Tax Deferral Program, which has expanded this year.

IDOR said the program works like a loan, allowing qualified seniors to defer a maximum of $7,500 per tax year of their property taxes and special assessment payments on their principal residences (including both first and second installment payments). This has increased from $5,000 last year.

The program was also expanded this year to increase the household income threshold qualification from $55,000 to $65,000. IDOR said the deferred amounts are borrowed from the state, which then pays the tax bill to the County Collector’s Office.

Interest on the amount paid by the state accumulates and a lien is placed on the property for all deferred tax payments and interest. IDOR said this is payable upon the death of the homeowner, at the time the home is transferred to a new owner, or sooner if the program participant chooses to pay off the deferred tax payments and interest.

To qualify for the program, a property owner must:

  • Be 65 years of age or older prior to June 1 of the year that the application is being filed with the County Collector’s Office.
  • Have a total annual household income of no more than $65,000.
  • Have owned and occupied the property or other qualifying residence for at least the last three years.
  • Own the property, or share joint ownership with a spouse, or be the sole beneficiary, or the property owner and spouse be the sole beneficiaries of an Illinois land trust.
  • Have no unpaid property taxes and special assessments on the property.
  • Have adequate insurance against fire or casualty loss.

“We encourage all eligible seniors who need help in paying their property taxes to look into this program and apply by the March 1 deadline,” said IDOR Director David Harris. “Not only has the income threshold been increased this year but the program has also been expanded to allow seniors to defer a greater amount of their property tax payments.”

Seniors who plan to apply for the program should contact their local County Collector’s Office to receive an application. IDOR said the completed application must be filed with the Collector’s Office on or before March 1 of each year they wish to defer their property taxes or special assessments.

More information can be found here or by contacting your local County Collector’s Office.