Illinois Justice Pays Back 4 Years of Erroneous Homeowners Exemption

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

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Scott Neville sent staffers to the Cook County Assessor’s office Friday to clear up controversy surrounding a Homeowners Exemption he erroneously received on a Bronzeville property, according to the office. 

Neville was required to paid back four years of the exemption, an Assessor’s spokesman confirmed, amounting to nearly $3,000.

Neville does not live at the address where the exemption was given and rules state a homeowner must live at the address. The property lists Neville's mother as the owner, but she died 28 years ago.

The Assessor’s office said Neville offered to pay more since he had received the exemption for more than 15 years, but the rules state only four years must be reimbursed.

The judge also asked the assessor to remove the Homeowners Exemption on the property. 

NBC 5 Investigates first revealed the controversy over Neville’s property tax break earlier this week.

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 was 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. 

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.

He received the backing of the Cook County Democratic Party Friday. He’s one of seven candidates running for the 10-year term on the high court. 

State party officials had requested clarification on just how much Neville owed 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. 

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