2021 Cook County Property Bills to be Significantly Delayed: What it Means to You

Three Questions and Answers

Question 1: “When will my 2nd installment Cook County property tax bill be due?”

Answer: That is literally a $16 billion dollar question. As of early April 2022, tax bills are projected to be approximately six months late.

Question 1: “How much will this delay cost Cook County taxpayers?”

Answer: Probably about $50 million or more.

Question 3: “Why does a delayed property tax tax bill matter to me?”

Answer: Cook County’s delay may:

  • Impact your budget and your holiday spending plans
  • Cost you half or more of your SALT federal tax deduction
  • Disrupt your business or homeowner association reserves
  • Distort your home’s or other property’s escrow for years
  • Cost you real tax dollars

Tax Bill Timing: Why It Matters

2021 second installment Cook County property tax bills are projected to be issued six months behind schedule or more. The first installment was due in February 2022. The second, final installment should be issued in July 2022. However, this year the second installment is projected to be issued December 2022 or later.

2022’s first installment bill will still be due in February 2023. This six month or more delay in the second installment presents planning issues for you as a Cook County residential or commercial property owner. Ultimately the delay will cost you tax dollars.

In a normal year, Cook County bills are issued in two installments approximately six months apart. The spread in time is designed to provide taxpayers reasonable ability to plan for expenses and sufficient time between payments to save for the next one.

The timing also:

  • Allows government agencies to budget and pay their bills timely
  • Establish schedules for association and escrow managers to accumulate adequate client funds for tax payments
  • Helps prevent tax payment defaults

When certain County agencies do not perform their functions properly, taxpayer and government agencies’ meticulous planning might as well be thrown out the window.

Due to delays by the Cook County Assessor in completing the first review of this year’s assessments, that is the case for 2022.

Tax Bill Timing: Impact on Your Payments, Escrow, SALT, and More

You might think: “I am glad for the delay. I can hold onto my money longer.”

While that may be true, it will require careful planning. In winter 2023, you will have two back-to-back property tax payments due. If you have not properly planned and separately allocated your tax funds, you may fall short on funds just as you are paying your holiday bills.

If your property taxes are paid through an escrow agent, you will need to ensure they continue to properly hold funds for the late payment. Additionally, you’ll have to ensure the escrow agent does not erroneously return the over accumulation caused by the lack of a timely request for payment.

Your federal SALT (State and Local Taxation) deduction may also be in jeopardy. If you plan to take any part of the second instalment payment as part of your SALT deduction and the second installment is issued before the end of the year, be sure to make your property tax payment before December 31, 2022.

At present, Cook County does not have the mechanism for taxpayers to prepay an unissued bill. If the 2021 second installment tax bills are issued after December 31, hundreds of thousands of Cook County taxpayers will lose a part of their SALT deduction benefits.

When tax collections are delayed, the government entities that depend on the tax payments continue to operate. They either suspend payments to their venders, draw down on their reserves, or they borrow tax anticipation loans to keep them current in their obligations. The added cost to operate is passed on to the taxpayer in added taxes later. It is estimated that this completely unnecessary delay will cost Cook County taxpayers $50 million or more.

What Is There a Delay?

A property’s assessment is the main component of that property’s tax bill. Accordingly, Cook County property tax bills cannot be issued until afterthe Cook County Assessor and the Cook County Board of Review complete their annual work of reviewing and assessing all Cook County property values.

Each year, one third of the county is reassessed. The entire county is reassessed every three years. Before anyproperty can have a final assessment, the taxpayer has the right to challenge that assessment value by an appeal.

In 2022, the Cook County Assessor instituted a transition of all the assessment data from the county’s main frame computer system to a more localized and efficient system. Unfortunately for the taxpayer, other county tax agencies remain and rely on an older mainframe system and cannot accept the Assessor data without translation.

The Assessor’s unilateral actions of transitioning without a back-up system and releasing data without adequate advance testing for data errors are causing huge delays that are costly to taxpayers and to the system.

The Assessor usually begins his work in February, completing his calendar by publishing his last final value no later than the second week in December. In 2022, the Assessor’s final publication date is projected to be sometime after May 1st.

The Assessor is running six months or more behind schedule. If you filed an appeal this year to the Assessor, your postponed appeal decision is a result of the delay.

After the Assessor concludes his values, every taxpayer is granted the right of appeal to The Board of Review. The Board of Review cannot consider a property’s assessment until the Assessor completes and publishes the final assessment of that property to the Board.

Tax bills are calculated based on the property’s assessment, tax rate and multiplier. The County Multiplier (also known as the County Equalizer) and a taxing district’s tax rate cannot be determined until after the last property’s value is determined. No Cook County tax bill can be issued until the Board of Review concludes the final assessment value of the final property in the county.

Due to the Assessor’s six months delay and driving the Board of Review further behind, second installment Cook County tax bills are projected to be over six months late.

You Have the Right to Appeal

As a Chicago attorney who is an expert in the Cook County property tax system, I will file a property tax appeal on your behalf. I will ensure that the county has the most current and accurate information about your property and I will show comparisons with similar properties.

If I am not satisfied with the assessment from the Assessor’s Office, we will file to all levels of appeal until your property is properly assessed, including the Cook County Board of Review, the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board and the Circuit Court of Cook County.

The Law Offices of Gary H. Smith can help you successfully navigate the Chicago and Cook County tax appeals process. Contact me today to get started.

Call 312-236-7447 or use our contact form.