Tag Archives: property taxes

Property Tax Proposals Meet with Chilly Reception

Property Tax Balance A mayoral candidate’s idea for a tiered system of property tax rates that would tax higher-priced homes at higher rates was short-lived.

Another idea to establish a statewide property tax to help pay off pension obligations was decisively rejected by suburban voters in November before it was ever even formally proposed. The referendum was seen as a way to discourage any attempts to introduce such a proposal – based on an idea from three Federal Reserve of Chicago economists reported earlier this year.

The chilly reception in both cases illustrates the hurdles around proposals that have the potential to raise property tax rates, especially in an election year, and especially in areas like Chicago, where property owners are still absorbing the sting of four years of phased-in property tax hikes.
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A Taxing Year for Chicago Homeowners

Chicago rowhouse neighborhoodChicago residents won’t see the 2020 property tax hikes some had feared under a city budget that holds property tax increases to $18 million for public libraries, but it is little relief for a city still absorbing multiyear increases imposed to cover unfunded pension obligations– and the sting of this year’s reassessments, which hit some North Side and Central neighborhoods hard.

Pension pressures still loom large over the city of Chicago, which faces a pension burden “the largest of any U.S. city,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, the five-year contract that resolved the recent teachers’ strike will carry a price tag estimated at $1.5 billion.
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Put a Team of Property Tax Experts to Work Protecting Your Investment

ReliefThere is nothing like the relief you feel when you hand a problem off to an expert. Your mind stops racing and you can turn your attention to other matters with confidence.

That’s especially true when it comes to something as complex and time consuming as appealing your property taxes. Doing the work on your own can be stress-inducing – and disappointing. Appealing your assessment without making the strongest possible case means leaving money on the table. And the strongest possible case requires a deep dive into the most up-to-date data to find the right properties for comparison.

At Kensington, we have decades of experience and a track record of success in assisting with property tax appeals for homeowners, property managers and commercial property owners in the Chicago area. It’s a record built on expertise spread across an entire team of property tax specialists. When you sign on with Kensington to research and manage your property tax appeal, you get more than a property tax expert: you get a whole team of property tax experts.
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Property Tax Appeal Expertise that Adds Up


When it comes to finding the right property tax appeal service, expertise can make all the difference.

One former Kensington client learned that all too well.

The client owned a home in Lake View Township valued at $1.3 million. Over a four-year period beginning in 2014, we used our proprietary algorithm and a team of experienced analysts to help the homeowner make the strongest possible case for reducing the assessed value of their home.

The result was property tax savings of $16,475.80 over four years – an average of $4,118.95 per year.

But when an acquaintance referred the homeowner to one of our competitors in 2018, the client decided to give the new company a try. The competitor managed to achieve savings of about $500. Spread out over the next three years, the reduction in their assessment will yield roughly $166 in savings per year.
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Property Tax Breaks and Incentives for Some Leave Others Paying More

Rubber stamp with word exempt inside vector illustrationThe pressures facing taxing authorities in Chicago and in Cook County are unlikely to change any time soon. But paying all the taxes needed to close the budget gaps and meet all of those pension obligations is a constantly shifting process. A tax break in one place means some other place will be expected to make up the difference.

That’s the zero-sum nature of tax collection in an environment where budget cutting isn’t a practical or political option.
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Nine Illinois Cities Ranked Among Places With Biggest Property Tax Bite

Bitten DiagramIf you are a Chicago-area homeowner and it feels like property taxes are eating you alive, it is not entirely your imagination. Nine Chicago-area cities made a list of places across the country where property taxes take the biggest bite relative to median housing costs, according to a recently published analysis.

The analysis, conducted by SmartAsset, a financial technology company and personal finance blog, used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to compare local property taxes as a percentage of housing costs in 599 cities across the country.

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Assessor’s Office Announces New Model for Property Assessments

new-assessment-model-does-not-end-need-for-appealIn a year in which the Cook County property tax system was repeatedly declared broken – by  investigative journalists, a non-profit group, an academic study and, indirectly, the voters who decided in March not to return Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios to office – the Cook County Assessor’s Office has announced a new model for residential property assessments it describes as a “huge step forward for Cook County.”

In recent months, the Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA), the University of Chicago, ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune have documented flaws in the county’s property tax system that have led to a whopping transfer of taxes on undervalued homes and pricey commercial properties to homeowners with the least valuable homes. Berrios noted in the press release that he operated under a system that he inherited and that has been in place for 40 years. Nevertheless, the office has pledged to work to fix the process.
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Chicago Property Taxes: Homeowner Double Whammy

Cook County Property Tax Double Whammy

Crain’s recently covered how Rahm Emmanuel’s $588 million property tax hike, which passed the Chicago City Council on October 28, is a double whammy for commercial property owners because it comes at a time when property values are rising and Cook County is re-assessing.

The same holds true for Chicago homeowners because of rising home values and all city of Chicago townships are being re-assessed this year.

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Where Do Cook County Property Taxes Go?

The second installment of property tax bills are out now. Where does your money go?

Cook County Property Taxes from 2000-2010

Where do Cook County property taxes go?According to findings by The Heartland Institute, Cook County property tax collections rose from $7.89 to $11.69 billion (a 48% increase) from 2000 to 2010, which is twice the rate of inflation during that period. Property taxes levied by Cook County government remained flat, so here’s where the increases came from:

  • Suburban municipalities: 75% property tax increase
  • Taxing agencies located within the City of Chicago: 44% property tax increase
  • Metropolitan Water Reclamation District: 29% property tax increase
  • School districts: 58% property tax increase with 27 more than doubling their levies

Read more from The Heartland Institute

Cook County Property Taxes Today

Cook County Property Tax Bill ExampleEach property tax installment bill identifies exactly where your property taxes go. See an example Cook County property tax bill here.

Each property tax bill is different as it identifies spending in your township and also identifies your exemptions.

Here’s a link to the Cook County Treasurer’s website that allows you to see specific taxing districts.

Cook County Property Taxes in 2015 & Beyond

According to The Civic Federation, here’s what 2015’s property taxes are expected to pay for in 2015 (you will receive these bills in 2016):

  • City of Chicago – $862.9 million: 45% for debt service, 41% for pensions, 9% for the Chicago Public Library and 4% for City Colleges debt service
  • Chicago Public Schools – $2.2 billion: 93% for the general fund, 5% for the Workers and Unemployment Compensation Tort Immunity Fund, and 2% for Public Building Commission lease and debt service payments
  • Cook County – $741.6 million: 30% for the Bond and Interest Fund, 26% for The Public Safety Fund, 21% for the Health Enterprise Fund, 18% for the Pension Fund, and 4% for Corporate and Election Funds

Read more from The Civic Federation

Chicago Asking for More

According to an article in Crain’s, City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to request an additional $328.6 million to fund the police and firefighter pension fund. A decrease from the state mandated contribution of $550 million. Even with the decreased contribution, 25-72% of this cost is expected to come from property tax increases. This equates to a 30% increase in your property tax bill starting next year.

Read the whole Crain’s article here

How to Minimize Your Property Tax Payments

If you want to avoid paying more than you have to and to ensure a fair assessment of your home’s value, you’ll want to appeal your property taxes taxes with both the Cook County Assessor’s office when your township’s appeal window is open as well as later in the year with the Cook County Board of Review.

Get your free property tax reduction estimate

Cook County Property Taxes Increasing & 3 Hard Truths

Cook County Property Tax Increase 2015Cook County property tax bills are expected to be released on July 1, 2015. According to the Chicago Tribune, they’re expected to go up by $90 per home on average. Here’s how the increase stacks up based upon what township you’re located in:

  • Chicago: property taxes on a home with a market value of $199,000 will increase $90 from $3,237 in 2014 to $3,327
  • Northern Cook County suburbs: property taxes on homes with a market value of $263,000 will rise to about $6,544 from $6,389
  • Southern Cook County suburbs: property taxes will go down about $51 on average, so the bill on a $163,000 home will be about $4,850 this year from $4,901 in 2014
  • Individual bills in specific suburbs will vary according to Cook County Clerk David Orr
  • As always, a variety of homeowner tax exemptions are available

Three Hard Truths

Property taxes have not declined on every home in Southern Cook County. In the words of The Daily Southtown, “Property values declined in the south suburbs, but property tax rates went up and some of the poorest communities in the Southland continue to have the highest property tax rates in Cook County… The highest composite suburban property tax rate in all of Cook County… belongs to Ford Heights at 38.45%. The market value of an average home in that suburb is $26,500 and the average property tax paid is $1,894… The lowest suburban property tax rate is in Barrington, 7.1%… where the average home value is $320,000 and the average tax $5,735.”

Additionally, what’s more concerning to many is how Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will plug the $1 billion budget Chicago Public School pension shortfall. Many expect further Cook County property tax increases next year.

Lastly, Cook County Board President Preckwinkle wants to increase the sales tax by 1% to 10.25%, making it one of the highest in the nation. New York City’s rate is 8.875% and San Francisco’s is 8.75%. Between increased property and sales taxes, the total tax burden in the Chicago metro area is becoming one of the highest in the country.

Property Tax Appeals

All of the above are even more reasons to appeal your property taxes. Doing so is the only way to ensure that you pay only your fair share and not a penny more. If you don’t appeal your property taxes, you’re probably paying more than you have to.

Contact us for a free, no obligation property tax appeal estimate