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Property tax cheats face amnesty deadline

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Evanston Township Assessor Bonnie Wilson had a reminder Monday night for people who own two homes and have been getting homestead exemptions on both.

You can only legally claim one such exemption. And the deadline for qualifying for an amnesty for the fraudulent second one is Dec. 31.

Wilson suggested that some people might just never have noticed that they were getting the dual exemptions.

The amnesty program, detailed in a county assessor's office online notice, requires taxpayers to come up with the money owed for prior years by the Dec. 31 deadline — but provides that the county won't seek to collect interest or penalties and won't seek civil or criminal prosectuion for the improper exemption.

The amnesty doesn't apply to people who've been receiving three or more homestead exemptions or people already under investigation or prosecution for tax fraud or nonpayment.

Wilson says starting in 2014 the County Assessor will be able to recoup the unpaid taxes plus penalties and interest and can place a lien on the property for the full amounts.

The county also has started a whistleblower program to let people report property tax exemption fraud.

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