Taxpayers in Cook County should be aware of new legislation in Illinois that requires senior citizens to apply for the Senior Citizen Exemption every year. The Senior Citizen Exemption provides tax relief in the form of a deduction on the second-installment tax bill by reducing the equalized assessed value on an eligible residence. In the past, the Senior Citizen Exemption was automatically renewed, and seniors did not have to reapply after their initial application. Automatic renewal will cease beginning with the 2010 tax bills payable in 2011.

According to the Cook County Assessor's website, the Assessor has already mailed the Senior Citizen Exemption applications to taxpayers who received this exemption last year. If you are eligible for this exemption but have not received an application, applications can be downloaded from the Cook County Assessor's website at The applications are due March 8, 2011.

Seniors should also check to see if they qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption, which freezes the equalized assessed value of an eligible residence and keeps the taxes at a relatively stable level after initial application. However, unlike the Senior Citizen Exemption, the Senior Freeze has certain income requirements. See the Cook County Assessor's website for more information.

Taxpayers receiving the Senior Citizen Exemption will automatically qualify for the Homeowner Exemption and do not have to apply for it separately. Also, taxpayers should be aware that the new legislation did not affect the Homeowner Exemption. The Homeowner Exemption will continue to be renewed automatically from year to year for all taxpayers who qualify.

Visit the Cook County Assessor's website at for more information.