Gary H. Smith
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Brace Yourselves Chicago: The Property Tax Storm Is About to Peak

By Gary H. Smith
Brace Yourselves Chicago: The Property Tax Storm Is About to Peak

The already sky-high property taxes that plague Chicago and Cook County are expected to increase again this year, increasing by approximately 10 percent and more, causing many business owners to consider relocating to friendlier tax climates and homeowners to second-guess the affordability of remaining in their homes. The rise in taxes, combined with sky-high assessments are prompting a large number of property owners to file property tax assessment appeals. A tax appeal attorney might help property owners achieve reductions in their property valuations to lower their tax bills.

Property Tax Increases

In 2016, the average increase in property tax bills for homeowners in Chicago was 12.8 percent. Some residents experienced substantially higher increases of as much as 77 percent. The sharp increase last year led many people to list their homes for sale because remaining in them was no longer financially feasible.

In June, the Chicago Tribune reported that property taxes in Chicago will climb by an average of 10 percent again this year. The expected spike is due to a number of factors.

  • A $272 million tax to cover CPS contributions to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund accounts.
  • An expansion of the property tax increase that is part of an ongoing cost to support police and firefighter pensions.
  • A number of other, smaller tax hikes in various districts throughout the city account for the remaining increase.
  • Properties in Cook County are reassessed every three years, and 2018 tax bills will reflect a reassessment of properties within the city of Chicago.

At the same time, the proposed tax reform bill in Congress includes a substantial reduction in property tax deductions for homeowners. Under the proposed tax reform bill, homeowners would be limited to just $10,000 in property tax deductions each year.

What to Do When Assessments Are Too High

Commercial, industrial and business property owners should always critically evaluate their property tax assessments. Chicago homeowners often receive assessments that are much higher than what their homes are worth. When people receive inflated assessments of the values of their homes, they can compare the sales prices of other, similar homes in their neighborhoods or use market analyses to help prove the values of their homes. In some cases, incorrect information about their homes can also lead to inflated assessments. And even when the value may not seem obviously inflated, Cook County taxpayers should always be aware that they can challenge their assessments based on uniformity; in other words, how does their assessment compare to all other similar homes in the assessment neighborhood

Property tax appeals may help homeowners reduce their tax liability, enabling them to afford their homes despite the rise in taxes.