Nearly 80% of all commercial property owners in Cook County received higher property tax bills this year, according to a report by the property tax research unit of Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas' office. The report also shows that 50.5% of residential properties in the county received higher tax bills.
Pappas said the data is alarming because the total increase in property taxes, which largely goes to fund school districts in Chicago and the suburbs, is outpacing the rate of inflation. "I hear the complaints from everybody," she said. "But it's certainly a hard time raising taxes on commercial property owners with everything that's going on."
The head of BOMA, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago agrees. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many commercial tenants have already decreased their leased office space or plan to do so. Additionally, many tenants have told building owners they expect to maintain lower occupancy even after the pandemic is over, Farzin Parang told the Daily Herald.
Scott Smith, a spokesman for Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, said some of the increased burden on businesses and homeowners is because bodies received more tax dollars through either inflation or voter-approved hikes. But he acknowledged the assessor's office is also re-evaluating many commercial properties' worth.
"In the past, a lot of areas were underassessed, particularly commercial properties," Smith said. "We are assessing property more accurately than in the past and getting closer to the market value, which largely hasn't happened in the past."
Kaegi's office reassessed properties in the South and Western suburbs ahead of this year's tax bills. Chicago properties are being reassessed this year. Next year, properties in the North and Northwest suburbs will be reassessed.