Property taxes described as most critical issue for 2018 elections
A recently revealed disparity in Chicago-area property taxes proves the system is corrupt and should be the prevailing issue in the 2018 elections, a radio show producer said recently.
"Because it's about your home," "Illinois Rising" producer Joe Kaiser said on the program.
At least one Democratic politician agrees. In early June, Chicago businessman and 2018 Democrat gubernatorial hopeful Chis Kennedy called for an end to the current property tax system. Kennedy also pledged that radical change of the property tax system will be at the heart of his campaign.
The average homeowner in northwest Cook County can expect his property tax bill to rise by about $560 this year, the Daily Herald reported. The article, which cited tax rates and reassessment values issued by Cook County Clerk David Orr's office in June, also reported the tax increases on their way in 22 Chicago suburbs, including 11.4 percent in Rosemont, 10.7 percent in Bensenville and 9.9 percent in Elk Grove Village.
The increases are most keenly felt in Chicago, where the average property tax bill will be up 10 percent this year, according to the Chicago Tribune, which cited data released by the Cook County Clerk's office. In suburban Cook County, the average homeowner will have to shell out 3.9 percent to 6.5 percent more, the Tribune reported.
The Tribune argued that Cook County's property tax assessment system is filled with errors and targets poor, minority homeowners who are less likely to appeal their assessments.
"The property tax rate for areas that are more disadvantaged -- it's not just River North or Streeterville that are seeing these skyrocketing property taxes," Kaiser said. "Lake County, where they do pay the highest property taxes in the state, among the highest in the country ... but if you go to the south suburbs of Chicago, disadvantaged neighborhoods are paying upwards of 10 and 11 percent in property taxes. That's startling. They can't afford it."
The Tribune expose is only part of the story, Kaiser said, adding that property taxes are playing their part in an ongoing exodus from the state.
"When you hear about the corruption and the property tax scheme, on top of paying the highest property taxes in the nation, why not just take the 30-, 40-minute drive east to Indiana," he said.
Illinois ranked 46th among U.S. states in property tax rates, according to the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index for 2017, released last fall. Property taxes are only part of the overall tax burden Illinoisans bear, according to the index, which listed the state 23rd in state business tax climate, 26th in corporate tax, 10th in individual income tax, 35th in sales tax and 38th inn unemployment insurance.
Illinoisans who don't pay property taxes will be feeling the pain as well, Kaiser said.
"I just got a note in the mail a few weeks ago that the rent on my Lakeview apartment will be going up about $200," he said. "It doesn't say why, but that plays directly into property taxes. Property taxes on the building are going up, so they're going to pass it onto me."
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