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As many of us struggle in the evolving economy, we recognize that time can quickly snow ball into greater financial consequences. This can happen with a mortgage, with utility bills, and it can also happen with property taxes.

In a post issued by the Cook County Treasurer on August 4, 2010 home owners may have their taxes sold via auction, which may cause you many more problems:

Almost $196 Million in Unpaid Bills from Tax Year 2008 May Go to Auction


Online Payment at Possible Through September 1 for Owners of 57,000 Delinquent Properties, Pappas Announces

More than 57,000 owners of real property who owe almost $196 million in delinquent taxes can pay online at before September 1 to avoid having their taxes go to auction, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas said today.

The names of the owners of unpaid bills issued in 2009 were being published in community newspapers today and Thursday to advise them that their unpaid taxes could go to the Annual Tax Sale beginning September 13. The owners also were receiving certified letters about the unpaid bills.

Pappas said the owners of unpaid bills on homes, businesses and land should pay before September 1 to ensure that their taxes are not offered for sale to tax buyers at the four-day Tax Sale, an auction of unpaid taxes for tax year 2008, which were mailed and collectible in 2009. At the Annual Tax Sale, tax buyers enter electronic bids on unpaid taxes. Winning bidders pay the taxes, then claim penalties and interest from owners seeking to redeem the taxes. When an owner does not redeem, the tax buyer may ask a court for the deed to the owner’s property.

Pappas said that for the first year, payment can be made online at from a checking or banking account, making it easier for owners to avoid the Tax Sale. Personal or company checks are not accepted. Payment must be made by certified check, cashier’s check, money order or cash at the 390 Chase Bank facilities around Chicagoland or at the Treasurer’s Office in Room 112 of the Cook County Building, 118 N. Clark Street, Chicago.

Pappas said owners can review their tax status at or 312.443.5100. Whether reviewing by web or phone, owners should have their 14-digit Property Index Number at hand, Pappas said.

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What can you do if your taxes are sold?

Information for Taxpayers Whose Taxes Have Been Sold at a Tax SaleBy law, the Treasurer’s Office cannot and does not give legal advice related to tax sales. You are strongly advised to seek your own attorney’s advice relating to any sale of your taxes and whether you should redeem, redeem under protest, or take other action.

If you do not have an attorney and need to consult one, you may call the Chicago Bar Association, Attorney Referral Center at 312.554.2000, and request a referral to an attorney who concentrates in real estate taxation.

If your taxes are sold, you have several options. While this document describes those options, you need to seek your own legal advice in determining how to proceed. Each option has different advantages and disadvantages.

Options if your taxes are sold: I) Redemption of Taxes, II) Seeking a Sale-in-Error Declaration, III) Filing a Statutory “Redemption Under Protest”

I) Redemption of Taxes

Redemption of sold taxes through the Office of the Cook County Clerk is the only way to protect your property if, and only if:

  • You believe your taxes are in fact validly delinquent; and
  • You do not believe your taxes were sold in error.

Again, if you believe your taxes were delinquent, and were thus properly sold, then you need to do a simple redemption. You may redeem your taxes by going to the Cook County Clerk’s Office, ordering an “Estimate of Redemption” and then paying that redemption bill. You need to do this as quickly as you can, as delaying may result in additional interest, penalty and costs.

For information about redemptions, call or go to the Cook County Clerk’s Office at:

118 North Clark Street, Suite 434
Chicago, IL 60602
312.603.5656If you believe your taxes were not delinquent, and should not have been sold, then you must consider options other than redemption. Those options include requesting the sale of your taxes to be declared a sale-in-error, or redemption “under protest,” a very specialized procedure, described hereafter.

II) Seeking a Sale-in-Error Declaration

If you feel your taxes were sold in error, please contact the Treasurer’s Office to request a sale-in-error. If it is determined that your particular case fits within the legal grounds permitting it to seek a sale-in-error, it will proceed accordingly.

Q. What are the grounds for a sale-in-error?

A. These are the grounds under state law:

  • the property was not subject to taxation;
  • the taxes or special assessments were paid prior to the sale of the property;
  • there is a double assessment;
  • the description is void for uncertainty;
  • the assessor, chief county assessment officer, board of review, board of appeals, or other county official has made an error (other than an error of judgment as to the value of any property);
  • the owner of the homestead property had tendered timely and full payment to the county collector that the owner reasonably believed was due and owing on the homestead property, and the county collector did not apply the payment to the homestead property; provided that this provision applies only to homeowners, not their agents or third-party payers (i.e. mortgage and title companies);
  • prior to the tax sale a voluntary or involuntary petition has been filed by or against the legal or beneficial owner of the property requesting relief under the provisions of 11 U.S.C. Chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13 (U.S. Bankruptcy Code); or
  • the property is owned by the State of Illinois , a municipality or a taxing district.

Q. What if I did not receive the certified-mail notice? Is this grounds for a sale-in-error?

A. No. Under the law, failure to receive notification of real-estate taxes is not grounds for waiver of responsibility, late penalties or exposure of unpaid delinquencies to the tax sale.

Q. What will the Treasurer’s Office do with a request for a sale-in-error?

A. If the Treasurer’s Office agrees that a sale-in-error request fits into one of the above categories, it will proceed administratively, if possible, or send the request, with appropriate documentation, to the State’s Attorney for filing with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Treasurer’s Office cannot tell you that a sale-in-error will or will not be granted, as all requests may be ultimately subjected to judicial interpretation.

Q. How long will the court proceeding take?

A. The court proceeding could take as long as a year, or more, before an order is entered. If the Treasurer’s Office is able to perform an administrative sale-in-error, the time period will be shorter, as this process may not require a court order if the tax buyer consents.

For information about, or to request a sale-in-error, contact the Cook County Treasurer’s Office at:

118 North Clark Street, Suite 112
Chicago, IL 60602
312.443.5100III) Filing a Statutory “Redemption Under Protest”

You may “redeem your taxes under protest,” which preserves your right to claim that your taxes were improperly sold, and should you lose that argument, will redeem your taxes, thus preserving your title. You can only redeem under protest after the tax purchaser has filed a petition (court case) for a tax deed on your PIN.

The result of a favorable ruling for the taxpayer would be that the sale was in error. In that case, the taxpayer would be liable only for the amount of taxes and late payment penalties and interest, if any, that were due, but not the extra redemption costs; the tax purchaser would receive a refund of the monies paid for the taxes and statutory sale costs at the sale.

Q. How does one redeem under protest?

A. In order to redeem under protest, the property owner needs to submit a deposit for redemption with the Cook County Clerk along with three copies of a form (to be filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County) containing the following information:

  • Identification of the redeemer’s name and address;
  • Identification of the property by volume number and PIN or legal description of the property;
  • Case number of the proceeding by the tax purchaser for tax deed;
  • Identification of the parameters of the sale through the original amount of tax, amount deposited for redemption, tax year included in judgment, date of sale, expiration date of the period of redemption, and the name of the tax deed petitioner; and
  • All reasons for which the protest is being filed; reasons not included will not be considered by the court.

If you need assistance with this form, you need to contact your attorney, as the Clerk’s Office cannot assist you.

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