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Cook County Receives a Lower Tentative Multiplier

by Bob Tivnan, CMI, Chicago, April 2020

 

To help achieve uniform property assessments throughout Illinois, the Department of Revenue has announced the tentative 2019 property tax equalization factor of 2.7523 for Cook County.

 

This initial equalization factor, often called the multiplier is a 5.45% decrease from the 2018 final factor of 2.9109. The Cook County Board of Review (BOR) certifies the final 2019 taxable assessments once the appeal process is completed.

 

Computing the Multiplier

 

The multiplier is determined for each county in the state by comparing the actual selling price of individual properties to the assessed value placed on the properties by the county assessor during a three-year period.

 

If the median level of assessment varies from the 33 1/3% level required by law, an equalization factor is assigned to bring assessments to the legally mandated level.

 

Presently, the (tentative) prior three-year average level of assessment (weighted by class) for Cook County property is 12.11% as indicated in the chart below. Therefore, the legally state mandated assessment ratio of 33 1/3% divided by Cook County’s initial three-year average level of assessment of 12.11% equals the 2019 tentative state equalization factor of 2.7523 for Cook County, IL.

 

After taking into account the 2019 reassessments, the present levels of assessment for Cook County, prior to the BOR’s final assessment certification, are as follows:

 

Class

2016

2017

2018

3-Year Average

1 - Vacant Lots

7.38

6.85

6.01

6.75

2 - Residential

9.76

9.30

8.99

9.35

3 - Apartments

9.46

8.56

7.63

8.55

5a - Commercial

26.39

25.87

27.53

26.60

5b - Industrial

26.03

26.45

28.26

26.91

         

Countywide

 

 

 

 

(Weighted average)

12.54

12.03

11.75

12.11

 

The multiplier does not cause individual tax bills to rise. It simply determines how the bill will be divided among taxpayers. Cook County business owners shoulder the largest property tax burden. Commercial and industrial properties are assessed at 25% of market value, while single family residential properties and apartments are assessed at 10%.

 

Higher Taxes May Still Prevail

 

When the BOR appeal process is finished, the DOR will issue a final 2019 Cook County Equalization Multiplier in the coming months. The 2019 second installment tax bills, and the corresponding local tax rates, will be determined by the local taxing bodies, who request the dollars needed to provide services to citizens and to meet other budgetary obligations.

 

Even with a tentative lower equalization multiplier, Cook County, like many jurisdictions across the country, is currently facing significant revenue shortfalls due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This could cause current property taxes to spike upwards.

 

While it is too early to know the full scope and impact this sudden health and economic crisis will have on the local governmental budgets, it will be particularly hard in Illinois, because of prior budget deficits, lingering pension liabilities, and a dismal credit rating. The crisis will most likely create dire repercussions for both state and local finances and taxpayers, especially in Cook County.