Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  The Cook County Forest Preserve District maintains over 70 miles of bicycle trails.

Property tax burden in Cook county shifts back toward business

Monday, August 23, 2010
Crain's Chicago Business
by Steven R. Strahler

The real estate crash is shifting more of Cook County's tax burden to business property owners, reversing a long trend during the housing boom when homeowners picked up a bigger piece of the tab.

A study provided exclusively to Crain's by the Civic Federation shows that effective tax rates for commercial and industrial property in Chicago rose by 25% to 30% between 2006 and 2008 after falling by as much as 70% between 1999 and 2006. Rates for homeowners also increased during the 2006-08 period but by a much smaller amount—just 1% in Chicago.

The results could threaten business investment here by reigniting age-old complaints about Cook County's peculiar property tax system, which allows business property to be assessed at up to 2.5 times the level of residential.

“It will continue to have a negative impact on Cook County, particularly the commercial portion of the market,” warns Patrick Doody, a property tax lawyer in Chicago.

Effective tax rates illustrate the disparate share of property taxes shouldered by business in Cook County. In 2008, commercial property in Chicago was taxed at 2.35% of market value, industrial at 1.61% and residential at 1.31%.

In measuring the share of property market value paid in annual taxes, the effective tax rate doesn't reflect changes in the tax bill itself. It does show how taxing districts stack up against each other, providing a useful yardstick for business-location decisions.

A decade ago, Chicago had the highest effective tax rate for commercial property and the second-highest for industrial property among the 50 largest U.S. cities, according to data from the Minnesota Taxpayers Assn. Now, despite the recent uptick in effective tax rates, Chicago is ranked just above the average, the group says.

The rate is tied to property values—hence its long decline as values surged in the late 1990s and early 2000s, followed by a rebound as they started to fall at mid-decade.

But the change in effective tax rates was much more pronounced in Cook County than in the five collar counties covered by the Civic Federation survey. Residential owners over the last decade have been paying a steadily increasing portion of Cook County's $1.1-billion overall property tax bill: 57% in 2008, up from just over 40% in the mid-1990s.

The trend has been reinforced by a 50% decline in assessment levels of commercial and industrial property relative to sales prices since the late 1990s, when the ratio exceeded the 2.5-to-1 assessed value limit mandated by the Illinois Constitution. By 2005, the sales ratio had declined to about twice that of residential assessments.

“The pendulum had to swing back,” says Douglas Whitley, CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

A spokesman for Cook County Assessor James Houlihan says, “Our ability to control effective tax rates is pretty limited.”

For the decade covered by the Civic Federation report, effective tax rates declined by 63% for industrial property in Chicago and by 49% for commercial, compared with a 13% drop for residential property.

“Tax levies have not grown as fast as underlying property values,” says Laurence Msall, president of the fiscal watchdog, citing tax caps as a restraint. Even where they are not invoked, “many communities have moved to a heavier reliance on other forms of tax revenue.”

But in economically depressed areas with limited alternatives and sagging property values, effective property tax rates have soared. The biggest increases among the 32 communities covered by the report were in Waukegan and Harvey.

© 2010 by Crain Communications Inc.

Recent Headlines

Illinois Supreme Court sets civil, criminal fee schedule
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Seniors: Are your Cook County property taxes delinquent? Your home could be at risk
Thursday, February 14, 2019
WLS Abc 7 Chicago

Editorial: Look out, taxpayers: When governments have more pensioners than employees
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Hundreds of accused criminals on electronic monitoring are missing
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
ABC Channel 7

Glenview adopts Cook County minimum wage and sick leave ordinances, effective July 1
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Lawsuit over property tax assessments survives challenge
Monday, February 11, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Thursday, February 07, 2019
Special to

Cook County Jail detainee dies at Stroger Hospital
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office Says Its Gang Database Is on Lockdown, but Questions Remain
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Pro Publica

Charges dismissed against man accused of threatening judge
Thursday, February 07, 2019
Daily Herald

Double Down: Twin Brothers Rehabbing Chicago
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Chicago Defender

Slowik: Residents, officials celebrate rehab work at public housing sites
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Daily Southtown

Class action: Evanston can't charge 'convenience fees' to people paying tickets online
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Cook County Rercord

390 arrested in nationwide prostitution sting, including 38 in Cook County
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

As we build a road, we will protect the forest preserves
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Campaign to weed out European buckthorn across the suburbs
Tuesday, February 05, 2019
Northwest Herald

Airbnb hosts in Cook County earned $109 million last year: report
Monday, February 04, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County senior exemption deadline extended
Monday, February 04, 2019
Daily Herald

Decadelong legal battle over Barrington Hills horse farm — eyed as huge forest preserve — may be nearing resolution
Monday, February 04, 2019
Chicago Tribune

EDITORIAL: Protect iconic forest preserve from concrete overkill
Sunday, February 03, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.