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Cook County Real Estate Taxes Are Out of Control

By Gary Smith
Cook County Real Estate Taxes Are Out of Control

Cook County’s Treasurer Maria Pappas unveiled a report recently that shows that Cook County property taxes have doubled over the past two decades.

Suburban Properties Take Biggest Hit

“The Pappas Study” is an examination of the tax bills on 1.7 million parcels of property in Cook County. The study analyzed total property taxes billed in Cook County’s 135 cities and villages by the 2,200 agencies that are funded by the taxes. There are 2,200 local government agencies in Cook County—including school districts, townships, parks, libraries, public health and safety agencies—that get funded by property taxes. A large portion of the property taxes raised in Illinois fund the high cost of pensions and government worker health care, which is mandated under the state constitution.

In addition to tax bills doubling, the study also shows that suburban Chicagoland has seen the largest increases—increases of more than 116%—in 20 years.

The regional cost of living increased by 36% between 2000 and 2019 and wages in Cook County have risen by 57%. The report also found:

  • In all of Cook County, total taxes billed increased 99%, from $7.85 billion to %15.58 billion
  • In Chicago, total taxes on residential properties rose 164%, from $1.33 billion to $3.51 billion
  • Total taxes on Chicago commercial properties rose 81%, from $1.92 billion to $3.48 billion
  • In suburban Cook County, total taxes on residential properties rose 116%, from $2.45 billion to $5.29 billion
  • Total taxes on suburban Cook County commercial properties rose 53%, from $2.15 billion to $3.30 billion

The study is posted on the Cook County Treasurer’s website with a research tool that allows owners to see a breakdown of how local governments have taxed properties.

Governor J.B. Pritzker had hoped to pass the “fair tax” amendment, which would have allowed the state legislature to roll out a graduated-rate income tax— something that the Illinois constitution doesn’t currently allow. That measure was voted down in the November election, but data shows that it wouldn’t have provided much, if any, relief to the property tax situation facing the state.

Property owners are preparing for even higher bills in the coming year, especially in Chicago, where there is a $93.9 million property tax hike proposed in the budget, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot has made a pitch to tie future property tax hikes to inflation.