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Justice claims he doesn’t recall applying for illegal property tax exemption

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019

* Mary Ann Ahern

An Illinois Supreme Court Justice has received a homeowners exemption on a home where he doesn’t live, NBC 5 Investigates found.

The property lists his mother as the owner, but she died 28 years ago. Judge Scott Neville will soon be asking party bosses to slate him as “the” endorsed candidate.

Judge Neville has been receiving a homeowners exemption for more than 15 years, and the rules state you must live in the home to get that tax break. Judge Neville was sworn in as an Illinois Supreme Court Justice last summer. […]

Records showed the tax break has been requested since 2000. In fact, in 2009, the home’s assessed valuation was requested again with Alice Neville as the applicant. By then she had been dead for 18 years. […]

[A campaign spokeswoman for Judge Neville] added “the Justice is unaware of this issue and does not recall applying for an exemption on any property. This is an error and since being notified of this error we are looking into this matter.”

Man, this seems to happen a lot.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

28 Comments »
  1. - Not Under Investigation - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:03 am:

    JB’s silence encourages this behavior.

    JB has been silent about Tom Cullerton who was awarded a new committee so he can keep the cash flowing. We need a leader who will stand up for the tax payers.

    Where’s the leadership on ethics?


  2. - Lucky Pierre - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:07 am:

    He will be fine as long as he hires Mike Madigan to appeal his property taxes


  3. - Teddo - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:15 am:

    I think it happens a lot because the Cook County property tax system is complicated and unwieldy. Whatever else this Task Force does I hope they recommend that it be simplified so that the exemptions, installments, appeals processes, etc can be understood by the average homeowner.
    There are no less than 5 Cook County agencies involved in issuing or appealing your tax bill. Not to mention local taxing bodies that levy taxes. Craziness.


  4. - OutOfState - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:16 am:

    ===JB’s silence encourages this behavior.==

    If you think his silence encourages the behavior, let me tell you a story about some toilets…


  5. - NoGifts - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:17 am:

    Maybe it tells us something about the wisdom of having the homeowner exemption. Why does it exist anyway?


  6. - A guy - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:19 am:

    It does happen alot. Especially with second homes, and in particular parent’s homes that an adult child may be helping them with. I think this problem is systemic and this person may not have even known the exemption was being taken, as it’s on an auto-renewal. It seems you often may have to “remove” the exemption when the relative passes away or moves. This doesn’t strike me as intentional. We’ll see I guess.


  7. - Bruce (no not him) - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:19 am:

    ” In fact, in 2009, the home’s assessed valuation was requested again with Alice Neville as the applicant. By then she had been dead for 18 years.”
    So, Mom came back from beyond the grave to apply for the homestead exemption?
    Why isn’t this the lede? Proof of afterlife?


  8. - OutOfState - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:27 am:

    ===Why does it exist anyway?===

    To give property tax relief to people who need the property as a place to live.


  9. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:28 am:

    Homeowners exemption should be an opt-in every year under the penalty of perjury.


  10. - notsosure - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:34 am:

    Berrios passed a law that required people to recertify each year that they still qualified (”I was old last year; I’m still old”) because he apparently couldn’t figure out how to cross-reference death notices or home sales. Kaegi has said that isn’t necessary, what with newfangled computers and all.
    The problem with these exemptions is that not only are they ridiculously complicated, but the effect is just to move the tax burden around, onto renters, businesses, and other homes. If enough of a community’s real estate is residential, all it does is raise the rate on everyone.


  11. - #BearsRule - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:37 am:

    ==this person may not have even known the exemption was being taken, as it’s on an auto-renewal. It seems you often may have to “remove” the exemption when the relative passes away or moves. This doesn’t strike me as intentional.==

    More evidence that we have way to much regulation in the State if a Supreme Court Justice doesn’t even understand the details.

    That said, claiming ignorance of the law is likely a bad political maneuver when you’re running for judge. How do you hold others, especially juveniles accountable for their unintinetional (but illegal) actions when you use this defense in a campaign?


  12. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:41 am:

    - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:28 am:

    Homeowners exemption should be an opt-in every year under the penalty of perjury.

    Sounds great until a couple hundred seniors forget to file and all complain to their lawmakers that no one reminded them.


  13. - Amalia - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:42 am:

    NBC Invesgtigates found….via whom?


  14. - Downstate Illinois - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:52 am:

    If supervisors of assessments would take some basic steps to verify the exemptions they give it could be so much easier. For example on owner occupied homes. If the tax bill is going to someone other than the land owner (or a bank) then pull it for review. Likewise when it’s going to the owner but it’s being mailed to a different street address, pull it for review.


  15. - South of 64 - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 11:54 am:

    I agree with A guy. The system is complicated statewide and most people aren’t aware of it.


  16. - A guy - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 12:00 pm:

    ==That said, claiming ignorance of the law is likely a bad political maneuver when you’re running for judge.==

    He certainly would have cleaned it up before running for judge (of the Supreme Court, no less) if he knew. When a parent passes away, there are a zillion details to deal with. A tax bill with an exemption isn’t one that rises to the top. When you sell the property, this pops up. There likely is a better way. Doubt anyone could know every law or exemption there is. If he back pays the exemption, he should be fine. This just doesn’t look deliberate to me.


  17. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 12:07 pm:

    ==JB has been silent about Tom Cullerton==

    Pritzker made a statement: “I don’t have all the details of this, but I can say this that our elected officials should be held to a very high ethical standard. I’m extremely disappointed and frustrated.”


  18. - thechampaignlife - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 12:07 pm:

    I had a related issue when I bought my house. The previous owner ran a non-profit out of it. When I bought the place, the assessed value was under $2K even though we bought it for about $80K. It took some 5 years for them to fix it. I did not mind the $200/year property tax bill, but I should have been paying 10x that amount.


  19. - Rabid - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 12:07 pm:

    If only one office would notify another of a death


  20. - #BearsRule - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 12:19 pm:

    ==When a parent passes away, there are a zillion details to deal with. A tax bill with an exemption isn’t one that rises to the top.==

    I think the article states that the exemption was applied for and received 9 years after his mother passed away. My bet is that a 3rd Party such as a spouse, sibling, accountant or attorney may have “handled” it improperly. That’s his best argument but that opens cans of worms for both the 3rd Party and invites comparisons to JB’s toilet tax exemption issue.


  21. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 1:02 pm:

    I’m reminded of the quote about henhouses and foxes. Just another example of why residents don’t trust their leaders.


  22. - CT Resident - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 1:20 pm:

    I’m hoping there’s signed paperwork for some of these requests and/or the 209 appeal.


  23. - RNUG - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 1:31 pm:

    At one time Sangamon wasn’t good on checking the exemptions, but they have gotten better at cross-checking the past 10 years.


  24. - billy - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 2:29 pm:

    [A campaign spokeswoman for Judge Neville] added “the Justice is unaware of this issue and does not recall applying for an exemption on any property. This is an error and since being notified of this error we are looking into this matter.”..sorry if you want to play the “i dont know” game then you dont belong on the bench..


  25. - CT Resident - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 3:15 pm:

    At first was wondering if if there was an obvious effort to have his residence under his wife’s name, but it doesn’t seem to be the case as the home in only under her name from the start.


  26. - qualified someone niobody sent - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 5:03 pm:

    Homeowner exemptions AUTOMATICALLY renew. They’re not applied for annually. This, and new legislation below, creates more work for a quasi investigational dept. dedicated to FIND erroneous exemptions. Unfortunately, Kaegi just got a bill passed to get rid of the annual requirement to renew a Senior exemption. Overturning a previous law REQUIRING an annual renewal of the Senior exemption to combat fraudulent exemptions.


  27. - Open Kimono - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 8:28 pm:

    Can’t really blame him. You have to be like a lawyer or sumpin to understand the rules.


  28. - South Side Sam - Tuesday, Aug 13, 19 @ 8:39 pm:

    With the highest property tax in the country one needs to work every angle.


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