Monday, April 7, 2008

Only in Cook County

As any Cook County resident knows, it is time for the annual Homeowner's Exemption (and Senior Exemption & Freeze) paperwork to be submitted. I was extremely excited to learn that you could apply for the exemption online this year. The instructions said something like file online and save time....or something along those lines. In my mind, online filing eliminates two potential problems with receiving the exemption. First, you do not have to risk the U.S.P.S. losing your exemption in the mail (or it being found in a dumpster five years later). Second, it takes it out of the hands of County employees who could lose it, enter it wrong, not enter it at all, etc. Cook County entering the 21st Century, right? Wrong.

So I apply for the exemption online and everything is going smoothly and quickly. There is a code to enter along with the PIN. It asks you to verify your informaiton and certify that you owned the house as of Jan 1. At the bottom of the page I hit SUBMIT. It opens a new page where it says "YOUR EXEMPTION IS NOT COMPLETE UNTIL YOU PRINT THIS CERTIFICATION, SIGN, AND MAIL IT TO THE ASSESSOR."

What?!? Huh? Only in Cook County could some wizard on high decide that we are going to make things for the taxpayer easier, quicker, cheaper, and smoother by turning a one step process into two. I could have just mailed in the original paper form, rather than doing all the hoopla online and then having to mail it anyway.

Hopefully Todd Stroger's third cousin twice removed will personally handle my exemption in the fourteen hours he works this month.

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