Act Quickly to Protect Duplicate Real Estate Tax Payments!

Many times property owners forget that they have escrowed money with their lender for property taxes. As a result, Illinois counties often receive duplicate tax payments on an individual parcel of property — one from the bank and one from the property owner. If your bank is escrowing your taxes and you erroneously make a duplicate tax payment, you should submit a property tax refund request to the county. To do so, you can go online to your county treasurer’s website and follow their instructions. Most of the time, you will receive a refund within a few months.

But what happens if you forget to request the refund? How do you get your money back? Well, in Illinois you can get duplicate tax payments back as long as you submit your request within five years. The court recently confirmed this in Alvarez v. Pappas, 208 Ill.LEXIS 315 (2008). In that case, the plaintiffs were unaware that their bank was paying their tax bill directly to the Cook County Treasurer’s office, so they inadvertently paid it themselves as well. Eventually, they sued Cook County for the return of the overpayment.

Unfortunately for the Alvarezes, they lost. The Illinois Property Tax Code states that there is a five-year statute of limitations for a property owner to request a property tax refund. After that, the taxing authority does not have to refund the money.

But please don’t misunderstand me! If you realize that you have submitted a duplicate tax payment, you should request your refund immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get your money back and the more red tape you will have to deal with! You also don’t want to have to go to court to get your tax money back, as that will be a costly and time-consuming process.