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Berrios Exemption Amnesty

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    Posted: 16/November/2013 at 4:25pm
Evidently, CC Assessor has an exemption amnesty program for property taxpayers who erroneously or purposefully claimed Homeowners exemptions on unqualified property. The program is ending on Dec. 31, 2013.

If you don't fess up and pay up before the deadline, the assessor says his office will actively investigate and collect with penalties and interest.

Anybody hear anything about this? Does Berrios have the budget and resources to follow through on this beyond the "voluntary" period?
Are the CC assessor's error-ridden records reliable enough to prove
a case against multiple exemption "suspects"?

Since Berrios has publicly professed that the state and county laws against nepotism and cronyism do not apply to him or his office, and his campaign fund has had issues with transparency, does he have the credibility to sustain this "fairness" initiative? Will Crook County taxpayers who, for decades, have paid more than their fair share due to those claiming multiple HO exemptions be getting a refund of their overpayments? Is Berrios' office collecting the back taxes or do payments go to the CC Treasurer? Who's tracking, reporting the collections?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bill Dwyer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16/November/2013 at 5:04pm
Yeah, the new law was signed this summer. Took two years of lobbying, including efforts by OP assessor Ali Elsaffar. 

It's worth going after people- some $50-$60 million in fraud- a small percentage overall, but significant money. 

Tribune story link is: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/chi-ugc-article-assessor-berrios-exemption-fraud-legislation-2013-07-17,0,2170469.story
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote watcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16/November/2013 at 5:41pm
Originally posted by Bill Dwyer Bill Dwyer wrote:

Yeah, the new law was signed this summer. Took two years of lobbying, including efforts by OP assessor Ali Elsaffar.

It's worth going after people- some $50-$60 million in fraud- a small percentage overall, but significant money.


I guess I just question the wisdom of collecting a million dollars from cheating taxpayers and putting it back into a system that is so fraud/abuse laden and transparency challenged, especially with Berrios at the wheel.

Checks and balances? Dumping more money into a severely leaky boat?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bill Dwyer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16/November/2013 at 6:37pm
Can't disagree with you, but if they can stop the thousands of people getting a break that the rest of us have to make up for, I'm fine with it. Berrios' daughter is a state rep and she has worked the past two years to get this through in Springfield. 

I don't trust him as far as I can throw him, but he's on the right side on the Home Owners Exemption issue (HOE).

When I was reporting, I found several house owners in the area with two and even three houses getting home owners exemptions on each of them. 

A big part of the problem is automatic annual HOE renewal. That gives property tax cheats the plausible deniability of being able to say they didn't know they were still getting the HOE on another home after buying a new one. 

There may be a notable person in FoPa who has a relative who is taking two exemptions. Need to dig a little deeper to be certain. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote watcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16/November/2013 at 7:24pm
Originally posted by Bill Dwyer Bill Dwyer wrote:

Can't disagree with you, but if they can stop the thousands of people getting a break that the rest of us have to make up for, I'm fine with it. Berrios' daughter is a state rep and she has worked the past two years to get this through in Springfield.

I don't trust him as far as I can throw him, but he's on the right side on the Home Owners Exemption issue (HOE).


If I were a betting man, I'd wager that Berrios figured out a way to profit from the scheme. I'd also wager that homeowners will not benefit by way of restitution from their decades of overpayments and that future taxes will not be reduced.

In terms of righting Crook County wrongs this one seems fairly labor intensive. Probably requiring additional workers and expansion of the Assessors patronage army. I'd much prefer a broader, more internal, localized approach among the spending units to rein in ineffective, wasteful, fraud plagued programs and policies. IMO, that would reap far more revenues far quicker.

Berrios the Crusader? The Reformer? Nah, not buying it.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bill Dwyer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16/November/2013 at 8:57pm
Originally posted by watcher watcher wrote:

 I'd also wager that homeowners will not benefit by way of restitution from their decades of overpayments and that future taxes will not be reduced.

The press releases I saw clearly stated that this wouldn't reduce taxes, just give the county legal recourse to go after people benefitting from improper exemptions. That will benefit law abiding tax payers, if only minimally, going forward. No one, including Berrios, said it would be a cure-all

I never said he was any kind of crusader or reformer. He's a sleazy nepotist and opportunist. But he also wants to get re-elected to a county-wide officeI don't agree with you that even people like Berrios can't do the right thing sometimes. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote piehead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17/November/2013 at 10:51am
Guess this will help Mannix out for sure.

But there are so many cheats that it's crazy. I know someone who claims multiple homes in Forest Park, for both he and his wife. On his rental properties.

There are many who rent out apt buildings that claim they live there as well. I know at least one that is a trouble building in FP that does it. Who will ever go after these morons?

And then there is the problem with the houses being totally incorrect in the tax listings. It's ridiculous.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote watcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/December/2013 at 3:52pm
Originally posted by Bill Dwyer Bill Dwyer wrote:

The press releases I saw clearly stated that this wouldn't reduce taxes, just give the county legal recourse to go after people benefitting from improper exemptions. That will benefit law abiding tax payers, if only minimally, going forward. No one, including Berrios, said it would be a cure-all

I never said he was any kind of crusader or reformer. He's a sleazy nepotist and opportunist. But he also wants to get re-elected to a county-wide office. I don't agree with you that even people like Berrios can't do the right thing sometimes.


This sort of goes with the "Questions about 7412 Harrison" topic, but putting here for context purposes.

While the assessor's website was a giant leap forward, it reflects the sad state of county records. Mr. Berrios is first and foremost desiring to wield significant power in Crook County. His access to information as assessor gives him a database he can weaponize. The state has now given him the ability to reward his friends and punish everyone else.

What could go wrong? Information is power. Property is typically one's largest investment/asset. Giving Mr. Berrios the ability to cause financial and legal issues for homeowners does not bode well.

It's not as though the county's property records are accurate and up-to-date. That makes it all grey area for Joe. If he wants to send a message, suddenly you're defending your HO exemption going back years.

This isn't paranoia. This is predictable.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote piehead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/December/2013 at 7:52pm
Sounds like the records in Forest Park's building department (on index cards). No order or real record keeping.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bill Dwyer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/December/2013 at 8:13am
Not defending Joe Berrios, Watcher. Don't trust him as far as I can throw him. You're right to be wary of political motive.

But the new law is an improvement. It was supported by all 30 township assessors, including Ali Elsaffar, a genuine public servant who is anything but a political hack. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote watcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/December/2013 at 8:59am
Originally posted by Bill Dwyer Bill Dwyer wrote:

Not defending Joe Berrios, Watcher. Don't trust him as far as I can throw him. You're right to be wary of political motive.

But the new law is an improvement. It was supported by all 30 township assessors, including Ali Elsaffar, a genuine public servant who is anything but a political hack.


As I said before, I understand the purpose of the law. I also understand why it was a priority for Berrios, rather than a serious, concentrated effort to fix Crook County's FUBAR internal systems. This generates serious revenue, while correcting the error ridden records would take time and money. IOW, it's a money trick. More shift, switch and shaft to the taxpayers. Eureka! Found Money!

You mention the 30 townships. Tough to use Oak Park as evidence of townships' necessity. Perhaps if the township assessors had actual control of records and assessments instead of their token positions?

In fixing the clusterfuck, it will be absolutely necessary to keep the political hacks at bay. Not put them in charge.





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bill Dwyer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/December/2013 at 9:24am
I said it was an improvement, Watcher. Not a panacea. At the least, it will make RE exemption cheats look over their shoulder, and give officials the ability to recover exemption money and fine people. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote watcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/December/2013 at 11:10am
Originally posted by Bill Dwyer Bill Dwyer wrote:

I said it was an improvement, Watcher. Not a panacea. At the least, it will make RE exemption cheats look over their shoulder, and give officials the ability to recover exemption money and fine people. 


Tree woids:

Discretionary selective enforcement.

It's hardly a secret that a slew of homeowners are between a rock and a hard place. Straddling bridge loans, upside down in a mortgage they can't refinance due to the meltdown, watching their property value drop and taxes go up... Berrios holds straw that might cause more than a few to go under, because neither he nor his predecessors have addressed the systemic problems with our property tax system.

It took us six years, of many, many, many attempts, to get our name on the tax bill instead of the previous owner's. With the "property ladder" moves until the meltdown, how many times removed will people be from the exemptions for which they may or may not receive a bill?

The online property records (and subsequent "commercial" derivatives of same) have shown obscenely inaccurate mortgage information. I gave up trying to correct that. The ripples from that have complicated more than a few things over time. The disclaimer: "Information deemed accurate but not guaranteed" doesn't protect the victims of errors or omissions.

This new wrinkle shouldn't affect me at all, but given the source, there's certainly that possibility. How much will a lawyer charge me for services? Where will the cases be adjudicated? At what cost? What is the process? Do you know? Surely when the bills start being mailed in January the legalese will be clear and simple, right? Yeah, riiiiiiiiight.

The assessor and treasurer and recorder of deeds and county clerk's offices are where this problem should have been addressed decades ago. They've had ample opportunity to communicate and come up with ideas. Instead, it's ONLY the taxpayers who are targeted? While they keep working their fiefdoms... at the taxpayer's expense too?

You keep using that word: Improvement. I don't think we agree on its meaning.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bill Dwyer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/December/2013 at 1:43pm
Originally posted by watcher watcher wrote:

1. This new wrinkle shouldn't affect me at all, but given the source, there's certainly that possibility. 
2. You keep using that word: Improvement. I don't think we agree on its meaning. 

1. You're right, watcher. The new wrinkle won't likely affect you at all. Unless you're taking an illegal HO exemption. 

But

2. For those that are taking an illegal HOE, the county can now take the money back and even penalize them. Apparently you've had a bad experience with the assessor. Sorry to hear. I had a mistaken entry placed on my assessor filing, and I was able to get fixed without a problem. Luck of the draw, I guess. 

Might Berrios somehow misuse the power? Maybe. Like I said, I don't trust him. But let me know when he actually does engage in something like "discretionary selective enforcement." In the meantime, a lot of people who were unjustly getting a monetary break that the rest of us have to make up for, are now going to finally be called to task. 

That's a good thing, and the new law is, by any definition of the term, an improvement over the old law.  
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