Suffredin- Changing County Government  

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:  

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


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

  Eighteen of the 20 largest banks in the world and more than 50 foreign banks have offices in Cook County.

Why Did State Lawmakers Approve of Cook County Tax Sale Law?

Tuesday, April 04, 2017
WTTW Chicago Tonight
by Paris Schutz

Tuesday marks day two of the semi-annual Cook County tax sale.

As Chicago Tonight reported Monday, that's where people delinquent on their property taxes have their liens sold to private investors, who can then collect massive interest rates. A push to change the system by some public officials has simply raised more questions, such as: Why would state lawmakers nearly unanimously pass a bill to shorten the timetable property owners have to pay their taxes, especially when it hits homeowners facing financial hardship? And why does this system exist in the first place?

This issue is more confusing the more layers one peels back. The important initial takeaway right now is, a delinquent taxpayer whose property is caught up in the tax sale may actually owe very little in the way of interest over the next six months.

In the tax auction, the private company can charge as high as 36 percent interest per year, doubling to 72 percent in year two. After that, the company has the right to claim a delinquent property. But, as we reported Monday, that’s not necessarily their interest. They can go to Cook County and have county taxpayers pay them for those delinquent taxes instead.

According to documents we’ve obtained from a tax buyer, there was $10.3 million in tax debt sold Monday to private companies. Nearly nine out of every 10 deals will charge zero percent interest, but this is where the scheme gets tricky. By law, that tax buyer now has the exclusive right to charge the delinquent property owner 12 percent interest for every subsequent tax installment that goes unpaid, rising to 24 percent in year two. This is where homeowners facing financial hardship can start drowning in debt, and this is where they cash in on millions in fees.

The companies themselves are obscure LLCs and there is not much known about them. They can be financial investors, real estate, or banks. They have been represented in Springfield by lobbyists like Mike McClain, Robert Molaro and John Lowder, all of whom have close ties to House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Chicago Tonight asked the treasurer’s office for a list of the companies in the tax sale, but they said they could not get it for us Tuesday.

A lot was made on Chicago Tonight on Monday about the fact that a state law set up this system where homeowners facing financial hardship get socked, and the fact that the 2014 bill that set the current schedule had near unanimous support.

That bill, SB 2778, shortened the window of time that taxpayers have to get their overdue bills in before the sale, from one year down to nine months. It was sponsored by democrats and in fact supported by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. One of the bill’s sponsors, state Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago) says Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas’ office also supported the bill, which contradicts what she told Carol Marin on Chicago Tonight when asked how such a bill could get passed.

“I don’t know, sometimes you just know the answers to questions,” Pappas said. “I mean, I’ve written seven letters opposing this thing, but I got nowhere.”

Pappas did indeed write letters to the Cook County Board expressing her dismay, but they came after the bill had passed. She wrote a letter expressing her support of an initial version of the bill that would have kept the window at one year, and her office maintains today that she had never supported the final version of the bill.

Pappas’ appearance prompted this response from Mitchell:

“Treasurer Pappas' mischaracterization of what this bill did, and her denial of supporting it is confusing,” he said in an email to his constituents.

The reason for the bill, according to its sponsors, was that the alternative would have been worse for taxpayers. A previous bill was sun setting, and it would have left taxpayers with just four months to pay taxes before the tax sale
In this instance, nine months is what lobbyists for the county and for the tax buyers could agree to.

Cook County is the only county in Illinois that has this extension though. In every other county in the state, delinquent taxes are sold 90 days after the due date. And for every month that taxes are delinquent before the tax sale, Cook County collects 1.5 percent interest on the bill and keeps all that revenue. That’s tens of millions of dollars that it gains in delinquent fees that goes directly into the county general revenue fund. It does not get redistributed proportionately to all of the taxing bodies, like the city of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools and the Forest Preserve, among others.

The recent interest on the subject also raises the question: Why does a system where private companies act as middleman to collect and profit on late taxes even exist?

It goes back nearly 100 years and it forces the collection of late taxes. It gives the taxing bodies an infusion of cash right away that it is expecting – as opposed to having to wait until all property owners can finally pay.

There is a bill floating in Springfield now that would again increase the amount of time property owners have to pay their delinquent bills before they get sold. The current Cook County property tax sale takes place until Thursday.

Check back for details. Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz

Recent Headlines

Challenge to filing fee has some worth
Monday, April 16, 2018
Chicago Daily law Bulletin

Tougher SNAP rules worry providers
Friday, April 13, 2018
Modern Healthcare

Cook County tax officials take excess campaign donations from appeals firms, ethics panel says
Friday, April 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County’s 'Next Century' Plan To Maintain Forest Preserves
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What happens when a hospital sells its debt?
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
WWNO New Orleans Public Radio

Federal funds to bolster election security may fall short in Chicago, Cook
Monday, April 09, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

New autopsy rulings bring Cook County cold death total to 31 this season
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Forest Preserves of Cook County Summer Day Camp Registration Opens April 2
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Special to

Cook County sues Facebook, Cambridge Analytica after alleged misuse of millions of Illinoisans' data
Monday, March 26, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Unsung Heroine Award to Emily Guthrie
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Evanston Roundtable

Editorial: In four letters, why people leave Cook County: J-O-B-S
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Chicago Tribune

In a twist, Cook County wins $9 million verdict tied to jail strip-search settlement
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Chicago Tribune

15 got promotions from Court Clerk Dorothy Brown within 6 months of donations
Friday, March 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Assessor Berrios loses court fight to overturn Cook County's limits on campaign donations
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

$70 million and counting? Cook County taxpayers face massive tab for sheriff board firings
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Commentary: Dart's misguided approach to jail reform
Monday, March 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: Commissioners: Shelve this Cook County job killer
Monday, March 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County alerting investors, delinquent property taxpayers of coming tax sale
Friday, March 09, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Agnes Lattimer, who became Cook County Hospital medical director and campaigned against lead poisoning, dies
Thursday, March 01, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Emily Williams Guthrie Honored as 2018 Unsung Heroine
Thursday, March 01, 2018
Special to

all news items

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