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Chicago's Biggest Property Tax Bills Skyrocket

by Bob Tivnan, Chicago, October 2013


The biggest commercial property taxpayers in Cook County, Illinois are being hit with double-digit tax increases. Businesses received the bad news with their second installment tax bills.


Market Recovery


Commercial properties in Chicago's downtown area were reassessed last year. Values of some properties approached or even surpassed levels seen before the real estate recession.


As a result of the higher assessments, tax bills took a big jump for 2012, payable 2013. For example, the 1.8 million-square-foot office tower at 300 East Randolph Street received a 16.6% hike in its bill to $13.1 million, according to a report released by the Cook County Treasurer's Office.


This trend represents a big change from last year when most of the biggest commercial taxpayers paid less than they did in 2010.


A Huge Expense


Taxes make up 66.2% of operating expenses for downtown Chicago buildings, according to the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Chicago. Higher tax bills generally are passed through to tenants.


Many prudent owners of the top commercial properties in Chicago and Cook County have appealed their higher valuations. However, in many cases, tax bills are still going up because tax rates are increasing.


According to Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office, the 2012 (payable 2013) composite tax rate in the City of Chicago increased 17%, while tax rates in suburban Cook County increased 10%-15%.


This means even if your property's assessed value is lower, your tax bill may still be higher. Nevertheless, keeping your assessment fair and accurate is the most effective way to manage your property tax expense.