(The Center Square) – Legislation is headed to the governor that gives property tax breaks to more veterans in Illinois.
Many disabled veterans in the state are exempt from paying property taxes, which has been received with lukewarm results.
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-Schaumburg, a disabled military veteran, has been criticized by a Chicago newspaper for not paying property taxes on her home despite her high income. The Chicago Sun-Times identified Duckworth as one of the more than 27,000 homeowners in Cook County who avoid paying the tax by claiming various exemptions made possible by Illinois lawmakers.
The senator is eligible for the tax break in Illinois until she dies, and if her husband survives her, he will be eligible for the exemption unless he remarries, the Sun-Times reported.
State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, wants to give more veterans that tax break through House Bill 2507.
“What this does is include veterans of World War II, regardless of level of disability,” Kifowit said. “These veterans would receive a 100% reduction of their property assessed value.”
According to the National World War II Museum, there are just over 6,000 World War II veterans living in Illinois.
State Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, believes the tax break is just too great.
“I agree that we should be providing some type of relief to our veterans,” Mayfield said. “They served their country, they came back, some of them did not come back 100%, but to say that any individual does not have to pay a tax, and they get zero dollars and that burden is pushed off to other individuals is just not right.”
State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, voted in favor of the measure, but worries about the effects on areas with military bases.
“That area is hit harder, so we are just trying to find a way because it's many millions of dollars that those districts are losing,” Meier said.
The measure also creates an exemption for surviving spouses of fallen first responders.
After passing both chambers, the bill can now be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his approval.