ASK MARK: I Didn't Get My Homestead Exemption, Can I Get Back Taxes I Already Paid?

ASK MARK: I Didn’t Get My Homestead Exemption, Can I Get Back Taxes I Already Paid?


  • Mark D. Armstrong, CIAO, Kane County’s supervisor of assessments since 2006, has nearly 30 years’ experience in property valuation. Click here for more about Mark. To Ask Mark a question, email it to or mail it to: Mark at 719 South Batavia Avenue, Geneva, IL 60134.

Q: I just reviewed my property tax bill and I see that I did not get any homestead exemptions this year; I checked prior tax bills, and I didn’t get them last year. Can I recover any of the taxes that I have already paid?

A: Yes, but only for the missing exemptions for the most recent tax bill, and even then, only until Oct. 1 of the year that bill was issued.

The process for correcting a tax bill is called a Certificate of Error.

Certificates of Error are authorized by two separate sections of the property tax code. The property tax code provides that they can be issued by a Chief County Assessment Officer with the concurrence of a majority of the Board of Review.[24] The property tax code also provides that they can be issued by the Board of Review with the concurrence of the Chief County Assessment Officer.[25] However, each section contains a specific time limit: the Certificate must be issued at any time “before judgment.” [26]

The term judgment is a reference to the “annual application for judgment” that is in conjunction with the annual tax sale.[27] This event takes place each October prior to the tax sale. Because of this timeline, the Kane County Board of Review has ruled that requests for Certificates of Error must be filed with the Clerk of the Board on or before October 1.

Because of these statutes, neither the Board of Review nor I possess the authority to issue a Certificate of Error that would correct a tax bill other than the current one. Furthermore, neither the Kane County Clerk nor the Kane County Treasurer has authority to issue a refund for prior years even if I did issue such a Certificate.

Therefore, any homeowner-occupants who were not granted a homestead exemption on their most recent tax bill need to file the appropriate application no later than October 1 of that year.