The majority of Cook County homeowners will have bigger property tax bills this year — and this time, the north and northwest suburbs got hit particularly hard.
School districts, which heavily rely on property taxes in Illinois, are largely to blame, according to a new analysis from researchers at Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas’ office. A recent state law also allows schools and some other taxing bodies to “recapture” money that was refunded to property owners when they successfully appealed, lowering their assessments.
“In those cases, the money came out of taxing districts’ bank accounts, reducing the amount of money they thought they had to pay their bills,” according to the report. “Sometimes, when refunds were large, that crimped their ability to provide key services.”
The new law allows those districts to tack on the refunded money to the following year’s bills. That helped fuel a domino effect — adding nearly $204 million back into the pool of taxes across the county that people are supposed to pay. That’s almost $73 million more than last year.
This is the third annual report from Pappas’ research team to help property owners better understand what goes into their tax bills. It’s a complicated process involving multiple government agencies and a host of factors that shift the tax burden around the county.
The latest report provides a window into the nearly 1.8 million property tax bills for the 2022 tax year. These bills are due Dec. 1.
Among key findings:
- About 72% of the 940 taxing agencies in the county hiked taxes.
- About 81% of property owners will pay more this year; about 17% will pay less; and around 2% won’t see changes.
- The amount of taxes billed to property owners across Cook County climbed 5.4%, or more than $909 million compared to 2021, totaling $17.6 billion. Still, that’s lower than inflation in 2022, the report notes. Homeowners are picking up two-thirds of the increase; commercial property owners are shouldering the rest.
- In the north and northwest suburbs, which were recently reassessed, the median tax bill for homeowners grew nearly 16%. That’s the largest hike in this area in at least 30 years.
In some cases, residents in communities that straddle North Avenue saw their tax bills go up far more than their neighbors. In a pocket of Melrose Park, for example, the median tax bill for about 220 homeowners swelled by almost 46% to nearly $7,000.
The median tax bill is at least 20% more in parts of Northlake, Franklin Park and Rolling Meadows.
Not only did the value of homes increase during the pandemic, but commercial and industrial property owners were more successful at appealing their assessments to the Cook County Board of Review compared to homeowners. In the north and northwest suburbs, the board lowered the values of two-thirds of commercial property appeals, compared with just over one-third of homeowners, the report found.
Calculating property taxes involves a web of variables, government agencies and taxing bodies. Local governments including schools, cities and suburbs determine how much in tax they’ll need to operate. Other agencies estimate the value of properties to figure out how much owners need to pay and set the tax rate.
Pappas said with her reports, she wants to help taxpayers make sense of the complex system. Besides schools, smaller portions of tax bills fund everything from mosquito abatement districts to libraries and the Cook County Forest Preserve.
“You need to read your bill,” Pappas said. “You need to understand who you’re paying money to.”
Broken down by region in Cook County, property taxes increased about 4% more among properties south of North Avenue, which includes the south and southwest suburbs; 5% more in Chicago; and just over 6% more for suburbs north of North Avenue, which includes the north and northwest suburbs, according to the report.
About 14% of the overall tax hike countywide will go to more than 400 special taxing districts known as tax increment financing districts, totaling at least $1.6 billion. These taxing districts are supposed to pump money into blighted areas to revitalize them. But critics say this siphons money away from other taxing districts, such as school districts, which then in turn hike taxes.
Property owners can look up and pay their tax bills at cookcountytreasurer.com.
https://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/2023/10/30/23935113/cook-county-property-taxes-homeowners-pay-bill Most Cook County property owners will pay more in taxes this year