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When will Cook County tax bills come out? Who knows?

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Sunday is a key date in the long-running war of words over this year's property tax bills in Cook County. That's the day that Board of Review Commissioner Joseph Berrios last week said his office will wrap up its work.

Under the official schedule, the second installment of property tax bills already should have been sent out. In practice, that doesn't happen very often. Last year, property tax bills went out with a due date at the start of December. What's different this year is that Cook County Assessor James Houlihan last spring alleged that some other officials were deliberately holding things up to ensure the bills wouldn't go out before the Nov. 2 election. Houlihan was responding to a March 25 letter from the Board of Review that blamed Houlihan for delays that would make this year's tax bills even later than last year's.

That letter was part of an exchange in which the Board of Review said it could finish processing appeals in two-and-a-half to three months once Houlihan's office finished assessing Cook County 1.8 million properties. Houlihan's office finished up in late April, which means the Board of Review should have wrapped things up by the end of July. But it's already September.

How long will it take this year? Adjusting a schedule that Houlihan released in spring for delays that since have happened, here's what we can expect:

- Oct. 1: The state Department of Revenue issues the final multiplier.
- Oct. 20: Equalized assessed valuations and exemptions released to Cook County clerk
- Nov. 10: Work completed on extensions, tax rates and abatements.
- Dec. 1: Tax bills mailed.

Under this scenario, tax bills might not be due until Jan. 3 or - if the process slows down any more - Feb. 1. If it's Feb. 1, that would be just one month before the first installment of next year's tax bills are due.

The Board of Review made its own prediction, which - accounting for the same delays that have already happened - would translate to a tax bill due date of Dec. 12.

The prospect of late tax bills isn't making suburban governmental units very happy, so there's a possibility they may put pressure on various officials to speed things up. But the process went more slowly than usual last year because many public workers had to take furlough days. That could happen again. Also, government offices have fewer workers overall. Houlihan's office, for example, had 474 employees in 1977, but this year had only 385.

The delay also will keep suburban taxpayers guessing about just how much their tax bills will be affected by Houlihan's announcement last year that residential properties in the 30 suburban townships would receive reductions in their assessed valuations. The reductions don't apply to city properties, whose valuations should be more current because it was the city's turn this time around to be reassessed. Of the city's eight townships, median assessments went down in six and up in only two - the townships including Lake View and the Gold Coast.

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8 Comments

If any one action is responsible for causing a delay in the issuance of 2nd installment tax bills for 2009, it is the pressure placed upon the Cook County Board by Commissioner Forrest Claypool and Assessor Jim Houlihan to force through revisions of the Cook County Classification Ordinance, commencing with the 2009 tax year. Their proposals were ill-conceived, over-simplified and untested. Nonetheless, Claypool and Houlihan were so anxious to ram these revisions through the County Board that they refused to wait for the Board to complete its own study of the proposals. That study, upon completion, would have warned of the unprecedented number of appeals that would be generated due to the failure of Claypool and Houlihan to consider the ramifications of their own deceptively “simple” revisions. Those changes have been the direct cause of the unprecedented number of assessment appeals being filed at the Board of Review. These poorly considered revisions, coupled with the refusal of the Assessor to adhere to his own new standards when reviewing taxpayer appeals, have been the major reason for the record number of cases (436,000) now confronting the Board of Review for 2009, and are the real reason for any delay in the issuance of the tax bills. The massive amount of appeals was predictable, but in his capacity as the chief sponsor of the proposal at the County Board, Commissioner Claypool obviously did not understand its ramifications or just did not care about its consequences. So why not place the blame where it really belongs – at the feet of Forrest Claypool and Jim Houlihan?

Face it taxpayers your property is worth 40% LESS and you will be charged 50% MORE in your tax bill that is why it is being delayed, they want to manipulate you at the voting booth.

This is being done on PURPOSE, it is simplified to charge More for LESS.

@Anonymous,

Very simply stated: "the Board of Review said it could finish processing appeals in two-and-a-half to three months once Houlihan's office finished assessing Cook County 1.8 million properties. Houlihan's office finished up in late April, which means the Board of Review should have wrapped things up by the end of July. But it's already September."

If Joe Berrios can't even manage his current job - half again as long as what he promised, and that is only if they are ready NOW - why would we ever want him as Assessor? This hardly seems like competence to me.

I would vote for an empty chair before I would vote for Berrios.

What I would like to know is since when did our property taxes and exemptions get based on the amount of wages we make. I thought it was on the value of the property!!!!

2nd installment 2010 tax went from 525.21 to 2468.09 can't call 13124437550 it's disconnected or somethin (assessors office and their web says oops.

they mailed the tax bill 11-10-10 and it's due 12-13-10. they also did'nt apply the homeowners exemption,they have a 20minto 50 min wait on the telephone. I can't file an appeal on the 2468.09 bill. I have to file an appeal on next years's bill.

my 2009 1st installment was 1168, my 2nd due 12/13/2010 is 2917!!!!!!!!! what? how? who? did i just get knocked out with a sucker punch?

Our first installment was $1999 and the second was $3999 (!!!) Absolutely outrageous! You have to go downtown in person to get any satisfaction. We were over the $100k income limit by only a few thousand. What you need to know is that if you have business expenses (IRS 2106 or Schedule C), you can deduct those from gross income. Luckily it brought us below the $100k limit and it knocked $1900 off. Now it's down to where it should be.
My question is, how can the county not tell us what our 2009 RE tax is when the first installment comes out? Is there something illegal about that? I'm surprised there have been no class action lawsuits filed.

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