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Extend limit on increases in annual tax assessments

Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times

Notices from the Cook County Assessor's Office will start hitting the mailboxes of Rogers Park homeowners this week. Other Chicago areas will follow in the months ahead. And the news isn't good: The median increase for city residences is a staggering 41 percent. If you're working on your income taxes this week, the last thing you want to think about is a potential sharp rise in property taxes.
Three years ago, when the median increase in Chicago was 35 percent, the shock was tempered by a new state law that limited annual increases in assessments for homeowners to 7 percent. That law covered Cook County's triennial assessment period. County Assessor Jim Houlihan is now trying to persuade lawmakers to extend the cap, but while legislation has cleared the Senate, it has stalled in the House. (There is time to extend it later this year, but Houlihan hoped to settle the matter before assessments went out so homeowners knew what to expect.)
The law was intended to protect homeowners from sticker shock by spreading out increases over three years. It also attempted to maintain the proportion of taxes paid by residential and commercial properties. It has succeeded on both scores.
Yes, businesses are paying more than they would have otherwise, because their share of the tax pie would have been slightly less. And yes, some homeowners also are paying more. But there is always a rebalancing of the burden after assessments. And there are more winners than losers thanks to this law.
When the law was passed, it was billed as a step toward reforming the state's inequitable tax system. That doesn't look likely anytime soon. But lawmakers should at the very least extend this worthwhile program.
Copyright © The Sun-Times Company
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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