SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate is poised to take up a bill that would make it easier for some seniors to access a state program that limits property tax increases on their homes.
Under current law, people age 65 and older with incomes of up to $65,000 can claim the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption, which effectively freezes the taxable valuation of their homes so that their tax bills cannot go up simply because the market value of their home rises.
Senate Bill 1346, which cleared the Senate Revenue Committee on Wednesday, would expand that slightly, starting in the 2019 tax year, by allowing seniors to deduct from their income whatever money they spend on Medicare premiums. That would allow some people with incomes just above the $65,000 cap to claim the exemption.
Sen. Laura Ellman, a Naperville Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill, said it would benefit seniors who are “on the cusp” of the income limit, but she said she couldn’t estimate how many seniors it would benefit.
Premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor’s office visits, are currently $135.50 per month for people with incomes below $85,000 a year. Premiums for Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs, currently average $33.19 per month.
That means passage of the bill would raise the income cap for the senior citizens homestead exemption by around $2,024 a year for an individual who purchases both Medicare options, or $4,048 a year for a couple taking both options.
The bill now is waiting for action by the full Senate.