Chicago Taxpayers May Net Some Miles

Chicago Taxpayers May Net Some Miles

Air travelers are always looking for ways to get frequent flyer miles, and they’ve let Cook County (Ill.) Treasurer Maria Pappas know it.

That’s why Pappas is asking the County Board to examine whether homeowners should be able to use credit cards to pay property tax bills and reap bonus miles, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

Consumers “call and they e-mail us and say ‘Why can’t I pay on my credit card and get miles?'” Pappas told reporter Maureen O’Donnell. “And there’s some pretty hefty [tax] bills.”

Pappas’ proposal wouldn’t be limited to frequent flyer cards. Credit cards that offer other bonuses — cash back or points toward a car purchase, for example — could also be used.

“If you have to pay, why not get something for it?” Pappas said.

Pappas told The Sun-Times she’ll ask the board to hold a public hearing on whether to give property owners that option.

Merchants routinely pay fees for the convenience of customers’ use of credit cards. Most likely, Pappas said, a third-party firm other than the credit-card company would charge residents “a small fee” for the option of using the card to pay a tax bill, Pappas said.

If the board supports the idea, she hopes to have this option in place when the next installment of property tax bills goes out this fall.

Pappas said her office would only accept credit cards until the due date for tax bills.

That way, there’ll be no question about which entity — the county, the credit card company, or the third-party processor — collects late penalties.

“I can’t imagine that they would deny this,” Pappas said of the board. “This is a major request” from consumers.

[Editor’s Note: We’ll put the call in to Maria and let her know that more than 1,600 counties and municipalities in all 50 states already allow property taxes to be paid via credit card, and residents have been earning miles for quite some time.]

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