Gary H. Smith
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Cook County: 2020 Annual Property Tax Rate Released

By Gary Smith
Cook County: 2020 Annual Property Tax Rate Released

The Cook County tax rate is determined each year using two considerations: How much money the county needs and the total assessed value of all the properties in the county. This year, Cook County determined it needed $16.1 billion. This is about a $500 million increase from last year.

Commercial Taxes Cover Shortfall Left by Residential Properties

In August, the Cook County Clerk released the Annual Tax Rate Report for 2020, which includes more than 1,400 taxing agencies. According to the report, the residential property taxes didn’t go up by enough to cover the 3.2% increase in the budget. That difference was covered by higher increases in commercial property taxes.

Each year, one-third of Cook County is reassessed by the Cook County Assessor’s Office. For tax year 2020, the south and western suburbs were reassessed. A COVID-19 adjustment was applied to the entire county to reduce the tax burden on taxpayers as a result of the pandemic and its economic effect. The countywide assessment value of all properties decreased by nearly 5% in 2020.

The effective tax rate went from 2% last year to 2.2% this year to cover those COVID-19 adjustments. The tax report provides a sample calculation for the city of Chicago that uses the average estimated fair market value.

The top five locations with the largest percentage increase in total property tax billed include:

  • University Park
  • Ford Heights
  • Dixmoor
  • Berkeley
  • Forestview

The top five locations with the largest decrease in total property tax billed include Winnetka, Deerfield, Hardwood Heights, Steger, and Barrington Hills.

The second half property bills were mailed out two months late this year, in August rather than June, because of an issue between the Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and the Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough. The Illinois State’s Attorney eventually told Yarborough that she had to proceed in doing the calculations for Kaegi’s office, and the property tax payment deadline was extended to Oct. 1.

It is imperative for property owners to ensure that the assessment information on the property is correct, from the Property Identification Number, or PIN, to the number of bedrooms and bathrooms to the condition of the property. If any of those items are incorrect on the property tax bill, then a property owner needs to appeal it within the timeframe set out for its city.