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Property Tax Discounts for Affordable Housing Could Impact You

By Gary Smith
09/23/2019
Property Tax Discounts for Affordable Housing Could Impact You

The Illinois General Assembly is considering two pieces of legislation that would limit the amount of property tax levied on affordable housing. This could increase property taxes across the board.

What Each Bill Would Do

The pending bill is Senate Bill 2259, which would artificially limit increases in assessments of new or rehabbed apartment complexes if the owner commits at least 20 percent of the building’s units to a rent cap for families that make less than a set income (which would be dependent on the area).

In the house, the second bill, House Bill 2168, would directly reduce assessments on similarly defined affordable apartments.

However, the levy, which is the total amount collected by each taxing authority, would not change, meaning that other property owners would be paying the difference.

Both these bills would be permanent changes to the Illinois tax code.

Unfortunately, neither of these bills accounted for projects that would have been built regardless of this tax break. And neither considers a measurement mechanism to gauge how this tax incentive is impacting the affordable housing market. Which means there’s also not a way to understand the full cost of this effort until after the fact.

Property Owners Should Watch Tax Bill

Property taxes in Illinois are tied with New Jersey as the highest in the nation. The combination of loss of equity in the housing market crash and suppressed values, partially because of the high property taxes, has already cost Illinois homeowners a quarter of a trillion dollars in the last 10 years—and that doesn’t include the commercial market.

Property owners should be looking closely at their tax bills for accuracy and true property valuations, to ensure they’re not paying more than their fair share. Property owners should appeal if there are inaccuracies or the property is over-valued.

Taxpayers should also double-check that they’re receiving any tax exemptions for which the property is eligible and that all of the information listed on the tax bill is indeed the correct information for the property.

They should also look on the Cook County Assessor’s website, where they can find a list of comparable properties, to check that the property is valued correctly. That same website also has information on the appeal dates for each township as well as for instructions and paperwork to fill out.

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