ATLANTA and WASHINGTON, DC — Homestead Exemption Fraud Detection technology from LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, as the starting point of investigation, has helped recapture more than $26 million in lost revenue for Chicago and the rest of Cook County, Illinois, returning would-be lost money back to taxpayers for public services including schools, public safety and other local needs.
The Cook County Assessor’s Office (CCAO) implemented the LexisNexis® Homestead Exemption Fraud Detection Solution as an investigative tool in its special investigative unit, the Erroneous Exemptions Unit. The unit was created after Assessor Joseph Berrios conceived legislation and spearheaded a bipartisan effort to put the Erroneous Exemption Recovery Program in place in 2013. The law targets Cook County property owners who wrongly received tax breaks on homes they didn’t live in as their primary residence and exemptions for which they otherwise did not qualify, such as those for senior citizens.
While $26.7 million has been recovered so far from people who erroneously received the homestead and other exemption tax breaks, the CCAO has actually identified and billed more than $44.9 million over the last four years, including $19.2 million currently being pursued. It has more than 1,510 liens in place on debtor properties, representing $6.4 million in additional tax revenue that is earning 1.5 percent interest each month.
“With all recovered revenue returned directly to school districts and other community taxing bodies, the program has already had a huge impact,” said Joseph Berrios, Cook County Assessor. “And this is not a one-time recovery of revenue; the savings continue because erroneous exemptions remain eliminated from future years. The solution is helping us recover millions of dollars for taxpayers at a time when Cook County schools and municipalities struggle with budget issues. Honest taxpayers no longer have to fill the gap created by tax cheats.”
The LexisNexis Homestead Exemption Fraud Detection Solution examined Cook County’s homestead exemption filings by combining them with the company’s public records data, identity analytics and advanced linking technology to help CCAO investigators detect erroneous and fraudulent filings, collect taxes resulting from these filings, and identify new sources of revenue. With approximately 5,238,216 residents, Cook County is the nation’s second most-populated county. From this population, the LexisNexis solution reviewed the homestead exemption filings to ensure compliance with Illinois state laws and identified approximately 40,000 properties as being suspicious and needing additional research.
“The Erroneous Exemption Recovery Program stands out for its remarkable operational effectiveness,” said Haywood Talcove, CEO, Government, LexisNexis Risk Solutions. “Not only has the Erroneous Exemption Unit recovered millions in much-needed taxpayer revenue, the Unit is self-sustaining. All investigations and collections are completed at no cost to taxpayers. We are delighted that our technology and data is among the significant factors enabling the great work of these dedicated government employees.”
For more information, please visit the Homestead Exemption Fraud Detection product page.
About LexisNexis Risk Solutions
LexisNexis Risk Solutions harnesses the power of data and advanced analytics to provide insights that help businesses and governmental entities reduce risk and improve decisions to benefit people around the globe. We provide data and technology solutions for a wide range of industries including insurance, financial services, healthcare and government. Headquartered in metro Atlanta, Georgia, we have offices throughout the world and are part of RELX Group (LSE: REL/NYSE: RELX), a global provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. RELX is a FTSE 100 company and is based in London. For more information, please visit www.risk.lexisnexis.com and www.relx.com.