How to Redeem Your Taxes After They Have Been Sold So You Don't Lose Any of Your Property
Richard Fonfrias, J.D.
Chicago's Financial Rescue & Bankruptcy Lawyer
Fonfrias Law Group, LLC
Tax Sales are held by the county in order to recover lost income from delinquent taxpayers. Follow These Steps If Your Taxes Have Been Sold in Cook County, Illinois for unpaid property taxes and you want to keep your home:
Step #1: Contact the Cook County Clerk's Office immediately and get the Estimate of the Cost of Redemption . The cost of redemption is the amount you must pay to bring your taxes current so you don't lose any of your real property.
Step #2: When you know the cost of redemption, then make sure the figure you obtained is for the correct Property Index Number (PIN), often called a Permanent Real Estate Index Number. You do this by comparing the legal description on your deed with the PIN. If you'd like help reading the legal description, go to the Real Estate and Tax Services Division, Cook County Building; 118 N. Clark St., Room 434; Chicago, Illinois. They will help you by examining the county's official tax maps.
Step #3: Make sure that the documents you receive cover all the delinquent taxes on your property. If you have questions, contact the Tax Redemption call center at (312) 603-5645.
Step #4: Pay your taxes immediately because, as time passes, the penalties and fees skyrocket. You must pay the full amount of the taxes, fees and penalties all at once with a certified or cashier's check, money order or cash. Do not send cash by mail. The County does not accept credit cards, debit cards or personal checks. The law does not permit partial payments or a payment plan. If you fail to pay the full amount within the time period the law allows, then you will lose your property and the tax buyer may petition for the deed.
Another Option: If you cannot pay your taxes in full during the redemption period, you can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This saves your home from the tax sale if you file before the redemption period expires. Then you have an extended period of time to pay the taxes, as well as other debts that are included in your Chapter 13 filing.
How to Protect Your Legal Rights
1. Do not pay to redeem a property if you do not own it or have another type of legal interest.
2. If your property has been involved in more than one tax sale, make sure you learn which sale has top priority. You see, each sale may have a different deadline, so you must get the deadlines for every sale. This way you'll know the last day you can pay the taxes and penalties to keep from losing your property.
3. If you want to save your home, make sure you know the dates of all penalty increases so you pay the full amount due on the date you pay. If the amount you send turns out to be only a partial payment, your payment will be returned. In addition, the following charges can increase the amount you owe:
- If your property's current taxes are not paid by the date due, the tax buyer may add them to the tax sale, along with added penalties and fees.
- If you do not pay the full amount, including delinquent taxes, late payment penalties and fees before five months prior to the redemption deadline, then other costs may be added to the redemption cost, such as charges for the Cook County Sheriff to serve you with legal notice.
When you review the Estimate of the Cost of Redemption, if you believe that you have already paid part of the added taxes, tell this to the County Clerk's Tax Redemption Unit before you pay to redeem your property. The tax buyer can pay the property's current taxes and then add them to your sale if you have not already paid them. If you have paid them, then the Clerk's office will reduce the amount you owe on your Cost of Redemption.
For example, let's say the County sold your 2008 taxes. Then you were late paying 2009 taxes but you paid them one day before the tax buyer paid them. If you provide the County with proof of your tax payment, then they will deduct that figure from the total amount you owe to redeem your property.
And last, there are ways to reduce outstanding taxes by making sure you always get exemptions that reduce the amount of taxes you owe. For example, if you should have received an exemption for a tax year after your taxes were sold, ask for a Certificate of Error from the County Assessor's office. Then the Clerk's office will lower the amount of taxes and penalties you owe. If you missed an exemption you should have received, call the County Assessor's office at (312) 443-7550.