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District 113A has legal avenue to retrieve $90K in back taxes

LEMONT – District 113A has started a legal process that may allow the school district to recuperate $96,827.73 in back taxes it paid dating back to 2004 for 10 acres of property it owns on 131st Street.

According to the Cook County Assessor's Office, the district had never properly applied for tax exempt status on the property at 13950 131st. St., which it purchased in 1989.

An application for tax exemption needs to be submitted to the Cook County Board of Review, which then sends it to the Illinois Department of Revenue for approval.

District 113A Business Manager Barbara Germany said the district is applying for the tax exemption, which could take a couple of months to be approved.

According to the Cook County Treasurer's Office, which is responsible for sending the tax bills, once the tax exemption is approved, the district will be able to recuperate taxes for three years prior.

To receive a refund on taxes in years prior to that, the district will need to go to court and prove that it had owned the property for those past years and that the property should have been tax exempt, the treasurer's office said.

The district said it learned about the unpaid taxes earlier this year when it was informed that someone had tried to purchase the property by paying the unpaid taxes. The district paid all the back taxes in February in order to keep the property.

District officials said that they never received the tax bills for the property. According to treasurer's records, tax bills had been sent to the property address prior to this year.

Germany said the house on the property is vacant and the person they have contracted to maintain the farm land is responsible for checking the mail. She said she believes that if the person checking the mail had seen the tax bill, he would have told the district.

The treasurer's office said that a failure to receive a tax bill does not absolve someone from paying their taxes.

Germany said the district receives a list of tax exempt properties from the Cook County Assessor's Office each year and that the property had not appeared on that list. She said at the time it had not occurred to her that, because it wasn't on the list, the county may not have considered the property to be tax exempt.

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