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U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., in Cook County, Illinois, is among more than 27,000 homeowners who do not pay one cent in property taxes, according to a report.

Reason: Duckworth and other zero-tax homeowners take advantage of various exemptions that the Illinois General Assembly has made possible over the years, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

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But critics say all those exemptions have left many people eligible without paying taxes, thus increasing the burden on those who fail to qualify for the break, according to the report.

“What we’ve done is to make all kinds of categories — veterans, people with disabilities, senior citizens — and all those exemptions administered by the county fundamentally undermine the integrity of the estate tax system,” said the president of the Chicago Tax Watchdog. Lawrence Messel group Civic Federation told the Sun-Times.

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“We give relief to people regardless of their income status, and the rest of the community has to pay more,” Msall continued. “It’s unfair, it’s too hard to monitor and it’s hard to quantify who is getting the value. Is it people in need, or is it a big gift?”

“We give relief to people regardless of their income status, and the rest of the community has to pay more. That’s unfair.”

— Laurence Msall, Tax Watchdog

regardless of income

In Duckworth’s case, the 53-year-old US senator pays zero in estate taxes because he is a disabled US military veteran with a disability rating of 70% or higher, as determined by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

As the Sun-Times reports, she and other similarly disabled veterans in Cook County who own homes get tax breaks regardless of their income level.

Duckworth lost both his legs and some use of his right hand after being hit by a rocket-fired grenade in Iraq in 2004.

According to the newspaper, she and her husband haven’t paid property taxes in Illinois since 2015, having saved more than $42,000 through exemptions in that time. The couple owns a three-bedroom home in Hoffman Estates, Cook County, estimated to be around $250,000, the report said.

Second Home in Virginia

According to the report, Senator and husband Brian Bowlesbe also owns a six-bedroom, $1.3 million home in Virginia, where he was billed more than $16,000 in taxes this year. According to the Sun-Times, Virginia offers an exemption for disabled veterinarians that is similar to the one in Cook County, Illinois, but Duckworth and her husband do not qualify because their Virginia home is not their primary residence.

The report states that Duckworth receives an annual salary of $174,000 and earned over $300,000 in royalties in total in both 2019 and 2020, she wrote. The income of her husband, who worked in cyber security, was not clear.

As the Sun-Times reports, the senator is eligible for tax breaks in Illinois as long as she dies, and if her spouse survives, she will be eligible for the exemption, unless she remarries. does it

Duckworth declined the Sun-Times’ requests to be interviewed for her story, but she responded when a reporter told her about her tax breaks during a public appearance on Friday.

Duckworth replied, “I wonder if anyone would question veterans who have been wounded and receiving benefits in the service of their country in a war zone.” according to sun-times.

A spokesperson for Duckworth said the senator receives the same benefits as any veteran who was equally handicapped.

According to the report, spokesman Ben Garmisa said, “Sen. Duckworth has always believed that everyone should pay their fair share in taxes and that those who serve in this nation’s uniform are entitled to and earned. benefits should be claimed.