North Side property tax hikes are mild, but wait until next year
Loop North News

The Home Front
The bite of the second installment of the 2020 property tax bill isn’t as bad as other years for many North Side Chicago homeowners. But hefty increases are expected for 2021 tax bills payable in 2022. First of two articles on property taxes.

23-Aug-21 – For many North Side Chicago homeowners, the second installment of the 2020 property tax bill reflects the “COVID-19 assessment adjustment,” so the bite isn’t as bad as earlier years.

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi determined that the pandemic caused a “significant economic downturn and lower property values,” depending on the property’s type and location.

In Chicago, the COVID-19 assessment value reductions average 10 percent.

Photo by Don DeBat

They range from about 7.5 percent in Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and Uptown, and nearly 8 percent in the Loop, South Loop, Bronzeville, River North, and Old Town.

The reductions are about 9.5 percent in Rogers Park and West Ridge, and as high as 12 percent on Chicago’s South Side.

In Chicago, tax bills vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood, according to an analysis of nearly 1.8 million bills by the office of Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas.

The county will collect more than $16.1 billion in property taxes this year. That’s an increase of $534 million – or more than 3.4 percent – from last year. Second installment bills were posted online on August 12 and will be mailed to taxpayers the week of August 23. The bills will be due on October 1.

About 84 percent of business property owners, compared with half of homeowners, are being billed more than last year, the Pappas analysis reported. The median residential tax bill is $3,341, down by $1.63 or .05 percent. The median commercial tax bill is $9,659, an increase of $761 or 8.6 percent.

The Home Front compiled the following 2020 tax bill analysis, which reflects the COVID-19 assessment reduction:

Lincoln Park. The resident owner of a brownstone six-flat received a bill of $21,652, a slight decline from $21,701 in 2019.

Logan Square. The resident owner of a greystone four-flat north of Logan Boulevard paid $12,144, a slight decline from $12,318 in 2019.

North Lincoln Square. The investor owner of a yellow brick four-flat received a bill of $7,643, down 3.6 percent from $7,923 in 2019.

Old Town. The investor owner of a four-flat Victorian brownstone in the Old Town Historic District paid a bill of $25,331, down 3.7 percent from $26,285 in 2019.

West Ridge. The resident owner of a two-bedroom condominium in a 19-unit walk-up paid a bill of $1,102, down 2.2 percent from $1,127 in 2019.

Irving Park. The owner of a stucco bungalow in the Villa Historic District received a bill of $10,145, up a hefty 7.3 percent from $9,447 in 2019. Close analysis showed the increase likely was due to lost Homeowner and Senior Exemptions.

Crystal ball gazing into the outlook for the expected 2021 property tax hike, payable in 2022, is cloudy, experts say. Chicago is undergoing triennial reassessment this year, and hefty tax increases are expected when the second installment of the bill arrives in August 2022.

A property tax bill is determined by four factors – the assessment, the equalization factor or “multiplier,” the tax rate, and the exemptions, explains Michael Griffin, a Chicago real estate tax appeal attorney.

Homeowners should review their exemptions because they can reduce their tax bill if they have the proper exemptions applied to the bill, Griffin noted.

The three primary exemptions are the Homeowner’s, Senior Citizen, and Senior Freeze. The Homeowner’s exemption recently was increased to $10,000 from $7,000, and the Senior Exemption was hiked to $8,000 from $5,000.

Those amounts are deducted from the equalized assessed value of a home to which tax rates are applied in order to determine the individual tax bill.

Photo by Jon Bilous

Michael Griffin

Also, more seniors can qualify for the Senior Freeze because the Illinois Legislature recently increased the maximum annual income to receive the freeze to less than $65,000 from less than $55,000.

“Every homeowner should review their tax bill to see if they received the proper exemptions and contact the Assessor if the exemptions are incorrect,” advised Griffin (left).

However, predicting a hefty property tax increase when the 2021 bill arrives in 2022 really centers on two wild cards – the tax rate and the state equalization factor, which can’t be challenged by taxpayers.

The equalization factor, or “multiplier,” is established each year for Cook County to bring property tax assessments in line with other parts of Illinois. The factor is determined by the Illinois Department of Revenue.

The main engine that drives up property tax bills is the amount of money spent by local government. For example, homeowners who read their 2020 tax bills will see continued increased spending for schools and police, firefighter, and teacher pensions.

Property owners who think they are over-assessed should appeal now, Griffin advises.

Adobe Stock

Contact the Cook County Assessor’s Office to find comparable properties or start the appeal process. The Assessor is now working through appeals for 2020. For 2020, all of Chicago is being reassessed.

A taxpayer can file with the Cook County Board of Review and later with the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board. Or call Michael Griffin, an expert tax assessment lawyer.

Next week: Two Chicago homeowners’ tax exemptions mysteriously disappear and their bills skyrocket.

Cook County Assessor’s Office

Cook County Board of Review

Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board

Michael Griffin

By Don DeBat | Loop North News |


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