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Timely Tax Bills in Cook County

by Bob Tivnan, Chicago, June 2012

For the first time in 34 years, property tax bills should go out on time in Cook County, Illinois. Officials plan to have second-installment bills in the mail July 1st, which will make them due August 1st.


Cost-Saving Plan


Tax bills have been delayed for a variety of reasons in past years. Board President Toni Preckwinkle made getting them out on time a priority this year.


Delays in sending out the bills cause delays in getting money to taxing districts. This forces schools, libraries and other local governments to borrow money. Taxpayers must eventually pay more to cover interest on the loans.


Assessor Joe Berrios explained, "It's all about saving money."


No Data on Averages


None of the Cook County offices involved with property taxation produces an analysis of year-to-year changes in tax bills of the over 1.8 million real estate parcels countywide. So there is no average or median data available on how much tax bills increase or decrease each year.


Some property taxpayers' bills do decline in a given year as the burden is shifted among properties. Businesses always pay more since commercial owners are assessed at 25% of their property's value and homeowners are assessed at 10%.


Rates Rise


When property values as a whole appreciate, tax rates remain low. Just the opposite happens in the current market of declining values. However, the rise in tax rates does not necessarily mean that individual tax bills will increase.


Taxpayers in the City of Chicago currently have the lowest composite tax rate in the county at 4.931%. Burr Ridge (in School District 107) has the second lowest rate at 5.145%.


Conversely, the highest composite tax rate is in Ford Heights at 21.737%. The second highest rate is in Park Forest at 17.860%.