* From the House Republican Leader…
Owners of vacant properties who are not actively seeking tenants or buyers, or making alterations while continuing to receive property tax relief could face a vacancy fraud complaint and pay a penalty under bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs).
“Corporations or unscrupulous property owners should not be able to receive special breaks or deals at the expense of communities. This bipartisan bill helps to address that as it relates to property taxes by giving local taxing bodies the ability to go after bad actors and ensure that property owners are paying what they actually owe, which will help our schools, other units of local government, and taxpayers,” said Durkin.
House Bill 2517 creates the Vacancy Fraud Act. The new act would allow a taxing body or representative of a taxing body to file a vacancy fraud complaint with the county board of review if property is receiving vacancy relief and the property owner is not actively attempting to lease, sell or alter the property. In addition, it establishes factors in determining whether or not vacancy fraud has occurred and the penalties.
Upon determination that an owner of vacant property is not actively attempting to sell, lease or alter the vacant property, the board of review and chief county assessment officer may impose the following penalties: Prohibit any vacancy relief until the property is sold or leased; require the payment of three times the amount of back taxes owed for any vacancy relief while the owner was not actively attempting to sell, lease or alter the vacant property; require the payment of interest on any back taxes. Repeat offenders within a five year period may be charged a penalty not to exceed 25% of the amount of back taxes.
Nothing like a little legislative jab at the guy with the “big” property tax troubles.
* But the hilarious aspect to Durkin’s move is that this is a Democratic-sponsored bill. Rep. Rob Martwick (D-Chicago) sponsored the measure back on February 7th. It went to subcommittee, then wound up back in Rules Committee after it failed to meet the passage deadline.
I’ve reached out to Rep. Martwick and will let you know if he says anything.