About Advertise Archive Contact Search Subscribe
Serving the Loop and Near North neighborhoods of downtown Chicago
Facebook X Vimeo RSS
The Home Front

(Above) View from Lincoln Square, where property taxes increased 21.2 percent in one year. Photo by Colin Andersen.

5-Dec-22 – With the unprecedented late December 1 arrival of the second installment of 2021 property tax bills, many North Side Chicago homeowners will be shocked to see rent hikes of 20 percent or more.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Papas says her office has received the figures to print 1.8 million property tax bills. Property owners can view, download, and pay their bills online at the Cook County Treasurer’s website. Taxpayers – including homeowners and landlords – also can pay their bills at Chase bank branches, or in person at Pappas’ office downtown. Property tax payments are due on December 30.

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.

In Chicago, tax bills vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood, an analysis by Pappas’ office reported. Reassessment increases of 38 to 55 percent in Lincoln Park and Old Town – and higher assessments in neighborhoods along Lake Michigan – were expected to send real estate tax bills soaring. Surprisingly, our survey revealed even higher-percentage tax hikes in townships west of Western Avenue.

A spot survey by The Home Front generally found widespread 2021 tax increases ranging from 9.4 to 24.3 percent on an assortment of homes and small apartment buildings. Here is the tax bill analysis:

Old Irving Park. The investor-owner of a red-brick six-flat south of Irving Park Road was billed $16,149, up a staggering 24.3 percent over the $12,224 paid in 2020.

South Avondale. The owner of a greystone three-flat just north of Diversey Parkway was surprised to be billed $10,165, up a hefty 23.6 percent over the $7,767 paid in 2020.

North Avondale. The owner of a yellow-brick two-flat just south of Addison Street was billed $8,411, up 23.6 percent over the $6,340 paid in 2020.

Lincoln Square. The owner of a yellow-brick four-flat building was billed $9,704, an increase of 21.2 percent over the $7,642 paid in 2020.

Buena Park. The owner of a large historic single-family home on a wide lot was billed a whopping $34,341, up 18.5 percent from $28,004 in 2020.

Irving Park. The owner of a stucco bungalow in the Villa Historic District was billed $10,519, up 15.4 percent from $8,896 in 2020.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

Old Town. The owner of a brownstone six-flat in the Old Town Historic District received a bill of $23,929, an increase of 9.5 percent over the $21,652 paid in 2020.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

Logan Square. The owner of a greystone four-flat north of Logan Boulevard was billed $13,414, up 9.4 percent over the $12,144 paid in 2020.

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

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 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 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 (right).

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 tax rate in Chicago eased slightly to 6.723 percent per $100 of assessed valuation from $6.911 a year earlier. And the 2021 state equalization factor, designed to make assessments uniform statewide, declined to 3.0027 percent per $100 of assessed valuation from 3.2234 percent a year earlier.

“With projected income from assessments rising sharply, some experts are wondering why the tax rate in the city of Chicago did not go down more,” says Griffin.

The main engine that drives up property tax bills is the amount of money spent by local governments. For example, homeowners who read their 2021 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.

Contact the Assessor’s office to find comparable properties or start the appeal process. The Assessor is now working through the appeals process for 2022 where the north suburbs are being reassessed.

Cook County Assessor’s Office

Cook County Board of Review

Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board

Michael Griffin