Illinois Dems Seek Information on Justice’s Homeowners Exemption

The property lists Judge Neville's mother as the owner, but she died 28 years ago

Following a report from NBC 5 Investigates earlier this week, Illinois Democrats are asking for clarification on a homeowners exemption received by a state Supreme Court justice before they endorse him for re-election to a full 10-year term. 

Justice Scott Neville was given the exemption on a property he owns in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood, but the application for the exemption lists his mother Alice Neville as the property owner, NBC 5 Investigates found. Alice Neville has been dead for 28 years.

After the investigation aired, Neville asked the Cook County Assessor what the procedure is for repaying the Homeowners Exemption he erroneously received, the assessor's office said. 

Neville has received the exemption for more than 15 years, but according to state law, only people who live in a home can claim the exemption on their taxes. 

"We're looking into it to see whether or not anything is owed," Neville said. 

The Cook County Assessor's Office is still investigating how many years the exemption was erroneously given.

Neville recently launched a campaign for a full 10-year term. In April, he filed his D-1 campaign papers with his address in the Beverly neighborhood, where he lives.

His wife is listed as the owner of the home.

The controversy comes as Neville, appointed to the bench last year, seeks a full 10-year term in the position. State party officials are currently working on their slate of candidates for the 2020 election, but they are seeking clarification on just how much Neville owes before they move forward with an endorsement of his candidacy. 

Appeals Court Judge Nathaniel Howse is also running for the position on the bench, and criticized Neville for accepting the exemption. 

"He should have known he's not entitled to the homeowners exemption on that property and should have noticed it," he said. 

There is no record of who asked for the exemption. Neville's campaign staff and the assessor's office both say that they are in communications to determine the amount of money that needs to be re-paid. 

According to officials, the assessor can ask Neville to repay up to six years of erroneous exemptions. 

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