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The Home Front

13-Nov-23 – Many North Side Chicago homeowners may be surprised to see hefty real estate tax hikes ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars with the late November 1 arrival of the second installment of the 2022 property tax bills.

According to an analysis of second-installment bills sent by Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, taxes across the county increased more than $909 million – an annual increase of 5.4 percent. Chicago property owners were slapped with an increase of $410.4 million – a boost of 5.3 percent.

The total taxes that homeowners must pay account for about two-thirds of the overall tax increase, Pappas said.

Tax dollar increases typically were higher if the property is located in the wealthier lakefront neighborhoods of Buena Park, Lincoln Park, Old Town, and West Uptown, according to an analysis by The Home Front.

Property owners can view, download, and pay their bills online at the Cook County Treasurer’s website. Taxpayers – including homeowners and apartment landlords – also can pay their bills at Chase bank branches or in person at Pappas’ office downtown. Property tax payments are due on December 1, 2023.

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi has blamed the Cook County Board of Review for creating higher residential tax bills this year due to its appeal decisions that reduced assessment valuations of some large downtown commercial properties, leaving many homeowners to unexpectedly bear more of the tax burden.

A spot survey by The Home Front generally found modest 2022 tax increases ranging from 2.1 to 5 percent on an assortment of North Side homes and small apartment buildings. Here is our analysis:

• Hollywood Park. A newer frame single-family home received a $13,829 tax bill, a whopping 60 percent increase over the $8,641 paid in 2021 by a prior homeowner. If the new homeowner had filed for his Homeowner Exemption, he would have cut the bill by $703. The prior owner had three exemptions – Homeowner, Senior, and Senior Freeze – that saved him $4,943 in 2021.

• Ravenswood. The tax bill on a graystone 3-flat rose 5 percent, or $246, from $4,886 to $5,132. The tax bill is still low for the neighborhood because the owner has the above three exemptions, which saved him $6,271 in 2022.

• Old Irving Park. The investor-owner of a red-brick 6-flat south of Irving Park Road was billed $16,522, up $373, or 2.3 percent over the $16,149 paid in 2021.

• Buena Park. The owner of a large historic single-family home on a wide lot was billed a whopping $35,125, up $784, or 2.2 percent, from $34,341 in 2021.

Adobe Stock

• Lincoln Park. Taxes on a brownstone 3-flat rose $567, or 2.2 percent, to $26,229 from $25,662. The increase would have been more if it were not for a Homestead Exemption that saved the owner $703.

• Old Town. The owner of a brownstone 6-flat in the Old Town Historic District received a bill of $24,456, up $528, or 2.2 percent, over the $23,929 paid in 2021.

• West Uptown. The owner of a historic graystone 2-flat received a $20,565 tax bill, up $442, or 2.2 percent, over the $20,143 paid in 2021.

• North Lincoln Square. The owner of a yellow-brick 4-flat building was billed $9,926, an increase of $222, or 2.2 percent, over the $9,704 paid in 2021.

• Logan Square. The owner of a graystone 4-flat north of Logan Boulevard was billed $13,704, up $289, or 2.1 percent, over the $13,414 paid in 2021.

• South Avondale. The owner of a graystone 3-flat just north of Diversey Parkway was billed $10,380, up $215, or 2.1 percent over the $10,165 paid in 2021.

Not all North Side homeowners received real estate tax hikes. A few saw their bills go lower.

• Irving Park Villa. Based on a successful assessment appeal, the owner of a stucco bungalow in the Villa Historic District was billed $9,862 – a decline of $657, or 6 percent – from the $10,519 she paid in 2021.

As explained by Michael Griffin, a Chicago real estate tax appeal attorney, the property tax bill is determined by four factors:

  • Assessment
  • Equalization factor or “multiplier”
  • Tax rate
  • Exemptions

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 exemption amounts are deducted from the tax bill, which is the result of the assessment multiplied by the tax rate and by the multiplier.

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

“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 (right). “If there is an error on the bill, the homeowner can get a corrected bill and pay the lower amount before December 1.”

 Michael Griffin

However, predicting a hefty future property tax increase 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 2022 tax rate in Chicago rose to 7.035 percent of assessed valuation from 6.723 percent a year earlier. And the 2022 state equalization factor, designed to make assessments uniform statewide, declined to 2.9237 percent of assessed valuation from 3.0027 percent a year earlier.

The main engine that drives up property tax bills is the amount of money spent by local governments. For example, homeowners who read their 2022 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.

Visit the Cook County Assessor’s website to find comparable properties or start the appeal process. The Assessor is now working through the appeals process for 2023 where the south suburbs are being re-assessed. 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.

  • Cook County Treasurer
  • Cook County Assessor
  • Cook County Board of Review
  • Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board
  • Michael Griffin