News from the Chicago Chapter

Cook County’s Complex Property Tax Process Put Into Better Focus at IREM Chicago Real Estate Tax Panel Discussion – Part II

Posted by [email protected] on 10/15/2018 12:00 am  


Insight into how vacancies can help reduce property tax rates on commercial buildings in Cook County, the impact organized labor may have on future property tax bills, and perspectives on why property taxes continue to escalate were among the topics addressed by a panel of three experts during “Real Estate Tax Panel Discussion – Part II,” an afternoon presentation October 11 hosted by IREM Chicago.

The event, a follow up to a property-tax focused panel discussion held during the April 5 chapter meeting and luncheon, allowed each panelist an opportunity to present different perspectives regarding the Illinois tax system, the complex tax process in Cook County and the effect existing regulations have on the metropolitan Chicago economy.

Joanne P Elliott, Partner at Chicago law firm Elliott and Associates, returned as moderator for the discussion. Each panelist provided in-depth knowledge and understanding of the property tax process.

Here are capsule reports on what the panelists had to say.

Donald T. Rubin, Partner at Golan Christie Taglia, LLP, provided a detailed analysis of the Illinois property tax system versus other states and explained the appeal process. He noted that local property tax revenues have been decreased due in part to falling home values, as Chicago finished last among the top 20 U.S. cities in appreciation at year-end 2017.  Yet, there are positive factors favoring Chicago, such as affordability and good wage levels. “We’re not doomed. Corporate real estate concerns around the nation are looking to Chicago,” Rubin said.

Brian Bernardoni, Senior Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy at the Chicago Association of REALTORS®, maintained that the property tax process continues to deteriorate because prospective solutions are not holistic and elected officials believe the revenue stream is limitless. “The politicians think this will last forever. But we can’t market ourselves out of the reality of taxes,” he said. The primary election defeat of long-time Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios and change next year in the Chicago mayoral position may cause “massive destabilization” in the future.

Michael J. Elliott, Partner at Elliott and Associates, said the property tax burden in Cook County will continue to grow because the initiatives being presented by state lawmakers are not addressing the “shrinking property tax pie.”  He presented a chart that revealed tax levies have risen steadily since 1979, while spending has outpaced inflation. He identified “legislative tinkering” factors – the Cook County classification system that shifted a higher burden to commercial properties, growth of the equalizer equation and tax exemption options for homeowners – as factors behind tax revenue challenges.

IREM Chicago has maintained PowerPoint presentations from the October 11 event and three property tax documents that can be downloaded.  Please visit this link.

Visit this link to read a news story regarding the conversation held during the April 5 property tax panel discussion.

The next official IREM Chicago chapter event will be the 65th Anniversary Celebration and Officer Installation November 1 at 111 S. Wacker Dr., Chicago. Visit this link to register and learn more.