* Unlike most rich Cook County residents, JB Pritzker never appealed his local property tax bills on his house - until 2015. And then he got a huge discount…
J.B. Pritzker, billionaire would-be governor, bought the historic mansion next door to his even bigger home on Chicago’s Gold Coast, let it fall into disrepair — and then argued it was “uninhabitable” to win what so far have been nearly $230,000 in property-tax breaks, records show. […]
Arguing that the smaller mansion is “vacant and uninhabitable,” those lawyers convinced Berrios to slash its assessed value last year from $6.25 million to just under $1.1 million.
That’s allowed Pritzker to get the nearly $230,000 in property-tax breaks and refunds, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis found.
The drastically reduced assessment caused the mansion’s property taxes to plunge 83 percent, leaving Pritzker with a bill for $19,719 last year, the analysis found. That was instead of the $117,087 he otherwise would have had to pay in property taxes, which fund the Chicago Public Schools, the city and other local governments.
The assessor’s ruling also meant that Pritzker was due partial refunds on the taxes that he paid between 2012 and 2014. He got three refund checks last year totaling $132,747 — money that reduced the amount of property taxes that schools and other local governments expected to receive.
Separately, Berrios cut the assessment on the bigger mansion where the Pritzker family lives — from $14.1 million to about $12.1 million, resulting in a 16 percent lower property-tax bill last year — $221,287 rather than $264,221.
I always have a simple answer for people who ask questions like: Why would a guy with $3.4 billion care about saving a few hundred grand on his property taxes? My reply: It’s Amorica, man. Nothing’s ever enough here.
It looks like he bought the house next door to establish a buffer. He remodeled the outside so it looked nice, but apparently let the inside go to pot. (The appraiser was let inside that house, but not into Pritzker’s actual residence, which also got a reduction, over security concerns.) Then apparently he got tired of paying taxes on a house that wasn’t worth nearly as much as its appraised value.
* The full statement the Pritzker campaign gave the Sun-Times…
In 2015, JB was one of over 50,000 residents of Cook County to appeal his tax assessment and like 64% of appeals, the ruling was in JB’s favor. It’s unfortunate that in the context of a political campaign, there is now an attempt to use that routine appeal as part of a negative attack.
* More oppo from the campaign…
It’s worth noting that unlike his neighbors and many residents of Cook county (including Bruce Rauner), JB’s 2015 appeal is the only time he has appealed his taxes since he bought the property in 2006.
· Chris Kennedy has also appealed his property tax assessment for his Kenilworth home to the Board of Review and the Board ruled in his favor. (158 Melrose Avenue)
· In 2012, 2014, and 2015, Rauner appealed his assessment for his Randolph Street Penthouse. (340 E. Randolph Street, 61-PHE)
· In 2012, 2014, and 2015, Rauner appealed his assessment for his Randolph Street condo. (340 E. Randolph Street, #4103)
· In 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, Rauner also appealed his assessment for three parking spots (Space P1-28, Space P2-30, Space P2-36)
OK, but there are important distinctions. Kennedy only lowered his assessment by $10K. And Rauner’s people point out that his condo association appealed those assessments, not him. And those appeals were denied.
* The other difference is that one of Pritzker’s campaign themes is making rich people pay more taxes, as opposed to Rauner’s goal of lowering their taxes…
“We’ve got to start by taxing the millionaires and billionaires first. We’re not going to middle-class families until we get people to pay their fair share,” Pritzker told reporters after his announcement.
Then again, the property taxes he was paying were “unfair,” according to the assessor’s office.
* From the ILGOP…
“It’s clear that when it comes to gaming the system for tax breaks for billionaires, J.B. Pritzker thinks big. Real big. Pritzker’s insider scheme to dodge taxes is shocking.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Steven Yaffe
* You can bet that “insider scheme” phrase will continue to be used. As some Rauner types have reminded me this morning, they beat the living heck out of state House candidate Merry Marwig last year for filing a couple of property tax appeals, and she didn’t get nearly the reduction that Pritzker received…
Every second mailer emphasized two somewhat nebulous “Madigan connections.” One was that Marwig moved into the 41st Ward from Wicker Park in 2013 and got her property taxes lowered twice; Madigan’s law office handles such tax reductions.
And if, as expected, Berrios’ Cook County Democratic Party endorses Pritzker, you’ll definitely see the Republicans use that Pritzker-Berrios-Madigan connection over and over and over again.
…Adding… As pointed out in comments, Berrios’ spokesman told the Sun-Times that his boss didn’t know Pritzker got the assessment reductions. But, that likely won’t matter to the ILGOP.