Cook County property tax bills set to increase by 5 percent

Cook County property tax bills set to increase by 5 percent

Chicago homeowners will see their property tax bills rise by an average of $110 this summer. But suburban residents and business owners should also prepare for a hike.

Cook County’s second installment of property tax bills – based on 2017 property tax rates – will soon be en route to mailboxes, stamped with an Aug. 1 due date. Property owners in Cook County paid this year’s first installment of property tax bills March 1.

According to a report from the county clerk’s office, the average property tax bill for the owner of an average single-family home in Chicago will see a $110, or 2.75 percent, increase this year. Last year, average homeowners in the Windy City were hit by a 10 percent increase. The city’s south suburbs will see the largest spike this year, with property tax bills rising by $247 – or nearly 5 percent – to more than $5,400 for the average homeowner.

These increases come in the wake of criticism of Cook County’s assessment process, which a 2017 investigation revealed to be rife with unfairness, benefiting wealthier property owners at poorer homeowners’ expense. This year’s larger property tax bills are due, in part, to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s four-year property tax increase plan passed in 2015, primarily intended to fund the city’s severely underwater city pension funds.

An expansion in residential property tax exemptions effective this year will shift a larger burden onto business owners. In an example provided in the Cook County clerk’s report, owners of a sample commercial property in Chicago would be looking at a 7.5 percent increase on their property tax bill this year. A business in the south suburbs under this example would see an increase of 8.2 percent, and the bill for a north suburban business owner would increase by 6.4 percent. The north suburban business owner in this example with commercial property valued around $299,100 would pay $20,660 in property taxes – a $1,244 increase from last year’s bill.

Hiking property taxes to pay for pension debt only discourages families from planting roots in Illinois. Moreover, saddling businesses with a higher tax burden will continue to dampen the state’s laggard jobs growth. State and local lawmakers should pursue sensible reforms that reduce residents’ property tax burden and create a more welcoming environment for businesses.

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