In an effort to better deliver core services in a time of tight government resources, the Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office will be implementing changes to the way it administers its duties and functions as an agent for City, County and State Transfer Tax authorities, specifically to the factors we use when reviewing a PTAX Declaration against the corresponding deed for acceptance.

Please review this post carefully; this policy change will take effect Monday, June 4, 2018.

As many of you know, MyDec (which replaced EZ Dec, and for many, paper PTAX forms entirely), is a software environment for tracking, collecting and administering state and local property transfer taxes. Although the Recorder’s Office levies no taxes itself, it does act as remittance agent for the County and State for real estate transfer taxes, and works to ensure they are collected and passed forward to the levying agencies. CCRD has also proudly served as the State’s “pilot county” when it comes to rolling out new functionality for the online MyDec submission system, a role that has allowed our office to accept all deed types for e-recording, and an even larger amount of document types from filers who are not registered settlement agents.

As a part of our workflow analysis in preparation for deploying a brand new recording software platform early next year, CCRD has made internal policy changes to the way it reviews and accepts tax declarations.

In review of the state law that governs these forms – §35 ILCS 200/et. Seq. – CCRD’s only statutory review requirement is to verify that information was provided for the required questions or fields. This means that we will no longer be verifying the substance of that information, and whether party names match the spelling on the accompanying deed, that the legal description matches the deed, the address is in the same format, etc.  Based off the list contained in the image below, CCRD will only verify that SOME information was provided in these fields, and we will no longer be releasing or rejecting MyDecs based on inconsistencies, or on the content of the text provided in these fields.

mydec blog post image 1

 CAPTION: Information required when submitting a MyDec or PTAX

Because we will no longer be verifying these fields, we will no longer be rejecting for inconsistencies. Further, we will no longer accept external requests for a staff person at CCRD to look up, locate, reject/unverify, or case manage your stamps with other agencies. State and County statutes are very clear that the substance of these forms are under the jurisdiction of the City of Chicago, Cook County Department of Revenue, and the State Department of Revenue. Going forward, any changes you need to make to these forms will need to be done through a direct interaction between the filer and the appropriate agency. Insofar as your request is for stamp refunds through our Office, we will continue to provide case management services in that area.

CCRD will continue to reject or unverify declarations in the normal course of processing recordings, where such a rejection is required or warranted, and in accordance with statute.

As stated earlier, this change is a result of dwindling public resources, and in an effort to make better use of taxpayer money. Anytime a CCRD staffer must spend time locating a form that is ultimately never stored by this office and provide case management due to an error made by the submitter, that is a transaction that likely costs the taxpayers money, as opposed to generating revenue.

Though we recognize that this change may require title companies, attorneys and settlement agents to adjust their internal processes, we believe this is a good thing. As most of these external requests are due to errors made by submitters, adjusting your internal processes to better ensure accurate information is reported to the proper offices will ultimately better serve the taxpayers, and your customers.

In preparation for these changes, we have officially asked the State of Illinois to modify the MyDec software to include an “Undo” or “Release” feature that will allow the submitter to recall their own Declaration before it has been processed. The State indicated it was a good feature to add, but provided no timeframe for making this upgrade. If you feel this is a feature that will better serve you, we urge you to email the State Department of Revenue at Rev.MyDecProject@illinois.gov.

Please also note that although the ability to request rejections from our office will cease on June 4, 2018, we may begin rolling out our lighter scrutiny of Declarations before that date.