Cook County recently released its 2019 property tax rates, which are used to determine the tax bill. The numbers are often a mystery, but property owners should know what the numbers mean and how the money is being used.
The Tax Bill Demystified
Cook County property taxes start with the budget, and the dollars they need to collect in order to meet that budget is spread across all the residential and commercial properties in the country based on what those properties are worth.
Regardless of the property value, it’s the tax rate set by the county that impacts the tax bill’s bottom line. The tax rate is set based on the amount of money the local taxing districts need to operate in the coming year, plus the equalized assessed value of the property. According to the Illinois Department of Revenue, most property is assessed at 33% of its fair market value. Cook County calculates the tax rate for more than 1,400 taxing agencies.
For 2019, Cook County is looking to collect $616 million more than it collected the year before, a 4.1 percent increase. However, according to the Cook County tax rate report, most of that increase won’t be felt by residential property owners but instead by commercial property owners.
The four most impactful factors on whether individual property bills will increase or decrease, according to the Cook County Office of the Clerk, are:
- Amount of property tax requested by taxing districts (also called property tax levies)
- The change in the value of the property relative to other properties within the same districts (property assessment)
- The change in the state-issued equalization factor compared to the prior year (from 2.9109 for 2018 to 2.9160 for 2019)
- Property tax exemptions that each property owner qualifies for, for the property. For instance, if the property received a Homeowner Exemption one year but not the next, the final taxable value of that property could be higher
The five municipalities with the highest increase in total property tax billed for tax year 2019 are:
- East Dundee
- Elk Grove Village
- Franklin Park
One way for property owners to ensure they’re only paying their fair share of the property tax burden is to make sure the property is valued correctly and to appeal the value when it is not.