Chicago Sun-Times
A dialog between Sun-Times opinion writers and our readers

Property tax bills get later and later

| 4 Comments | No TrackBacks

On Tuesday (County offices are closed Monday for Casimir Pulaski Day), the first installment of Cook County property taxes is due.
In Cook County, property taxes are paid twice a year. The first deadline is March 1, unless that falls on a weekend or holiday.

The second deadline is - well, the Cook County treasurer's Web site says, "The second installment due date varies." That could be shortened to one word, though: whenever.
Going back to 1974, the second date has been set on Sept. 1 or sooner just 14 times. And it's only happened once since 1995. Every other year, tax bills have been late.
It's a cumbersome process. Before the second bill goes out, time must be set aside for new assessed values to be set, assessment appeals to be heard, exemptions to be decided, the state equalization factor to be calculated and, finally, the calculation of tax rates for various taxing districts.
In the last 15 years, the second deadline has fallen in September three times, in October three times, in November seven times and in December twice, including last year's deadline of Dec. 2. With the exception of 2006, the pattern has been for later and later tax bills.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:


I heard the Cook County Assessor's office is working overtime to perform their task to produce taxbills on time. So who is going to be responsible if taxbills are not on time? The media should be like ticks on a dog following the progress of the Board of Review chaired by no other than Joe Berrios to finish their work by July 1. The State needs a couple of weeks to finalize a multiplier, the Office of David Orr a week to calculate rates and the Office of Marie Pappas a couple of days to print 1.8 million bills. Taxing district may need to borrow billions of dollars if Cook County can not perform on a timely.

The Cook County real estate tax system is a joke, and patently unfair to commercial property owners. 183rd & Harlem is the County line between Cook and Will County. Burger King on the Cook side of the line had property taxes for last year of $61000.00 and this year the taxes are $83000.00. Across Harlem Avenue is a Wendy's, same business, size of property and building. The taxes on Wendy's in Will County were last year $16000.00 and this year $17000.00. Look at any strip mall in Cook County and you will see all kinds of vacancies.

Cook County should be on the same tax system as the rest of the State, and the assessor should reassess every year like the rest of the State. If that happened you would not have a multiplier in excess of 2.97 times the assessed value of 38% of market value.

To simplify all the the real estate taxes in the State, it should use as a base of assessment square footage of both the land and the building, or possibly cubic footage for the buildings in you want to tax high ceilings. If you use footage as a base, it is an amount that would not change from year to year unless there was an addition, which would be picked up via a building permit. That would mean a 2000 square foot building in say Wilmette would pay the same amount towards the Forest Preserve District as a building in Ford Heigts since the FPD is a taxing body that is reflected on all tax bills in the County. By having a uniform base with which to assess taxes the residents in say School District 230 could compare their tax bill to say District 299 which is Chicago's. Only when taxpayers can compare apples to apples will we be able to judge which units of government are operating efficiently.

The story missed this year is the change in assessment ratios. This poorly disclosed fact will lead many owners to pay taxes on inflated values.

Tax bills WILL be late this year - count on it. The entire County is being reassessed - every single property. That means, that while under normal circumstances, only one-third of the properties would be reassessed, every property is. Thus, assume that the amount of appeals to the Assessor and the Board of Review is three times more than it usually is.

Hence, I would not put the blame for the late tax bills solely on the Board of Review. As a property tax attorney, we filed for many homeowners in Jefferson Township with the Assessor by October 5, 2009. We are only getting results from the Assessor now. Additionally, it was the Assessor's Office that ordered the reassessment of all properties this year - which will be the main reason for any back-log.

Finally, I agree with "Taxed" that the biggest "miss" by the press this year is the overall ramification of the new assessment levels for Cook County and how the overall tax burden will further shift to the individual homeowners. To find out more about how property taxes work visit Cook County Tax Appeals Online at

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Thomas Frisbie published on February 26, 2010 4:39 PM.

Trashing teachers online is trashy itself was the previous entry in this blog.

A tsunami of e-books? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.