House bill would lower all Illinois property tax levies by 10 percent
The proposal would lower all local governments’ property tax levies by 10 percent and then freeze them in Illinois. Any future increase would require voter approval.
Illinois homeowners could get some property tax relief if state lawmakers back a new bill to cut and freeze tax levies statewide.
State Reps. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, and Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook have co-sponsored a bill that would permanently lower property tax levies statewide by 10 percent.
The proposal, House Bill 320, would expand the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, or PTELL. PTELL limits the rate at which non-home rule communities in certain counties can increase their property tax levies. HB 320 would expand similar curbs to all taxing authorities in Illinois, regardless of county or home rule status.
“We have to do more than just stop property taxes from increasing – we must find ways to lower the property tax burden in Illinois,” McSweeney said in a statement.
Under HB 320, all Illinois taxing districts would phase in a 10-percent levy reduction during a two-year period. The levy is the annual amount a government requests from property taxpayers. Local governments would lower those requests by 5 percent in the 2019 levy year, and another 5 percent in 2020. The measure would freeze those 2020 levies, which could only increase again if voters approved a ballot question.
A July 2018 analysis by the Illinois Policy Institute found that residential property taxes had grown 43 percent faster than home values since 1996. And for years, polling has shown that residents cite high taxes as the No. 1 reason they wish to leave the state. Many have already planted roots elsewhere: December 2018 marked the fifth straight year of population loss in Illinois, a crisis driven primarily by more residents moving out than settling in.
“The longer we delay action on solving the property tax issue in Illinois, the more people are going to leave,” McSweeney said. “We know that people are leaving Illinois in droves in large part because the taxes are too high. We need to reverse this out-migration. It is time to lower property taxes permanently in Illinois.”
Illinoisans pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. To effectively deliver long-term property tax relief, state lawmakers must ultimately address the primary driver behind Illinois’ high property taxes: rising pension costs.
Across the state, growing pension costs have led to record property tax hikes while elbowing core public services out of local budgets. Absent meaningful reform, pensions will only continue to eat a larger share of the pie.
HB 320 has been assigned to the House Revenue and Finance Committee. Lawmakers should give this bill a fair hearing in committee.