Residents of Chicago, Illinois, took a big hit financially when Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s the city’s largest property tax increase was implemented in 2016. Those tax hikes from City Hall—in addition to those from Chicago Public Schools—have been doubly hard on the wallets of residents and businesses alike in Cook County.
While Chicago as a whole has felt the effects of the tax hike, Cook County in particular is bearing much of the financial strain, largely because of the disparate way they calculate taxes.
A unique tax model
Cook County’s method for calculating its property taxes are different than those surrounding it. It is the only county in the state with varying assessment levels for different types of properties. Because of the high number of tax parcels in the area, only one-third are assessed each year.
The average increase on a Chicago property tax bill for 2016 was 13%. But some residents and businesses were shocked when their tax bills increased by more than 32%. The increase has left many city neighborhoods—those with residents and businesses alike—reorganizing their budgets to come up with the funds to pay their 2017 tax bills.
Why bills have skyrocketed
The higher tax bills have left many taxpayers struggling to understand what happened—how their property taxes could have made such a drastic jump. Essentially, Cook County governments determine their budget, or how much money they want to collect for the year. Between Emanuel’s record property tax (which is largely slated to fund pensions for police and firefighters) and a hike at CPS, the property tax levy swelled. The slated funds were then divided between property owners based on assessed values.
Some areas (Kenwood, Hyde Park, Logan Square) had a tax increase that topped 25%. Other areas like Old Town, the Gold Coast, the Magnificent Mile and the “Hipster Highway’s” median exceeded 30%. Homeowners in these areas were left to scrape up the necessary funds or relocate to lower tax districts, like the Northwest and Southwest neighborhoods, which only saw a tax increase of 13%.
The tax hikes haven’t only affected Cook County residents. Cook County is the only one in the state where businesses bear more property tax burden than residents. Commercially-zoned properties in Cook County are assessed at rates that are 2.5 times higher than residential properties.
Consequently, commercial properties have felt the tug on their wallets because they can’t immediately raise rent for their occupants. Some small businesses haven’t been able to sustain a substantial profit and have been forced to close their doors.
Because of the recent tax hikes, residents and business owners alike are requesting that their properties be reassessed. Thus, the number of appeals with Cook County Property Tax Appeal Lawyers has escalated. Those challenging their assessment values partner with these property tax attorneys to navigate the process.
AppealTrack is a case management system for property tax professionals that makes the lives of attorneys, property tax professionals, and paralegals easier. It offers easy access to property information, displaying all property information on one screen. AppealTrack also gives clients read-only access to their Cook County property tax appeal status.
If you would like more information on AppealTrack’s software and how it can help manage your appeal protests, click here.