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Ricketts’ Wrigleyville rooftops benefit from “mom and pop” tax break

Friday, Sep 22, 2017

* Back in 2000, the Cook County Board approved a new law designed to help “mom and pop” business owners who had an apartment or two above their storefronts. The break was for smaller buildings (under 20,000 square feet). Under the new law, the buildings were taxed based on 10 percent of their assessed value (the residential rate) rather than 25 percent (the business rate). That’s turned out to be just swell for some Wrigleyville businesses, including rooftop bars owned by the Ricketts family

The Sun-Times examined the property taxes of 65 buildings with bars, restaurants and other businesses around Wrigley Field. The newspaper found that the assessor has classified 32 of them as residential because they include at least one apartment — which doesn’t even need to be occupied to earn the tax break.

Collectively, those 32 properties paid $1.6 million in taxes this year. That’s about $2 million less than they would have paid if they were taxed as commercial property, the Sun-Times found.

A caveat: Had the law never been passed, it’s unlikely the properties’ owners would have paid that full $2 million, as they’d undoubtedly argue that some parts of their buildings should be taxed as commercial and others as residential. Still, those so-called split assessments would generate more tax revenue from those buildings than are currently paid, experts say.

The properties include 13 apartment buildings along Sheffield and Waveland avenues where fans flock to rooftops to watch the Cubs play. Over the past few years, the Ricketts family has bought 10 of those buildings, paying $872,933 on them in property taxes this year — about $1.3 million less than they would have paid if they were classified as commercial real estate.

Go read the whole thing. Sheesh.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

16 Comments
  1. - Reality Check - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:06 pm:

    But people are mad about 12 pennies on a can of pop. (hard eye roll)


  2. - Roman - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:12 pm:

    The attacks on Berrios keep writing themselves…”your taxes went up while the Cubs got a $2 million break!” But some dude named Fritz Kaegi is the only candidate lining up to run against him?


  3. - City Zen - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:13 pm:

    Eamus Catuli = Tax Dodge


  4. - Anonish - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:14 pm:

    This also impacts funeral homes, not exactly mom and pops any more. Lots and lots of mixed use properties all over the county get this benefit AND apply for vacancy breaks for the apartments being allegedly unable to be rented.
    Lots of bars and restaurants all over use this.


  5. - Keyrock - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:16 pm:

    Blame Madigan. And Berrios and Burke. And everyone who touches the administration of the Cook County assessment system. And our entire corrupt county.


  6. - Moist von Lipwig - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:18 pm:

    ==But people are mad about 12 pennies on a can of pop.==

    288 pennies if you get a case. And the county is giving these giveaways to the Ricketts family while charging 288 pennies for a case of pop. Extremely regressive. I mean, you are essentially proving the pop tax opponents’ point.


  7. - downstate hack - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:18 pm:

    The ricketts family are just another example of Illinois corruption. They do nothing illegal but reap the benefits of political payoffs.


  8. - Reality Check - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:24 pm:

    @Moist - yep, so get mad about the loopholes for the Rickettses. Get rid of those, then let’s talk about 12 pennies on a can of pop.


  9. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:33 pm:

    Imagine how much lower the taxes would be if they disconnected a few toilets
    The original Nick name for Illinois was the Sucker State. I think we should go back to it


  10. - Downers Grove Guy - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    The Ricketts didn’t pass the law…they’re simply applying it to legally avoid taxes. Wouldn’t YOU if you were in the same position?


  11. - DeseDemDose - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:41 pm:

    Ricketts Family and Rauner are palsy walsy.


  12. - Sox Fan - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:42 pm:

    ===The Ricketts didn’t pass the law…they’re simply applying it to legally avoid taxes. Wouldn’t YOU if you were in the same position?===

    Take Rich’s advice and read the whole thing. The Ricketts’ are renting one of the buildings as a hotel (which should be classified as commercial) and receiving a residential classification. That’s knowingly cheating on your taxes and should be a crime.


  13. - 4 percent - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:54 pm:

    Here is the crux of the argument that businesses have been talking about for years….

    “Cook County is the only county in Illinois that taxes residences less than commercial property. That tax break is extended to thousands of buildings that include both businesses and apartments, resulting in lower tax bills for their owners — while forcing the rest of the county’s taxpayers to pay more.”

    Lawmakers played a role with their “7 percent solution” that capped residential rates and foisted more on business. Its a sham.


  14. - BuckinIrish - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 1:56 pm:

    ==Property taxes have risen so much in the neighborhood that Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) says he advises businessmen to follow his example. He decided several years ago to move his Ann Sather’s restaurant by half a block to a storefront building with apartments upstairs so he could cut his taxes.==

    Funny to read that your Alderman will do what he can to get his taxes slashed, and then advise others to follow his lead. I guess in a thriving area you don’t have to worry too much about the residents.


  15. - JS Mill - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 2:01 pm:

    The Ricketts didn’t pass the law…they’re simply applying it to legally avoid taxes. Wouldn’t YOU if you were in the same position?=

    Yes I would, but they own the cubs and I hate the cubs. So I am not going to like anything they do.

    And that ain’t snark neither.

    Go Sox!


  16. - Anon - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 2:53 pm:

    This is just another symptom.

    Government across the board in Illinois just has an unquenchable thirst when it comes to tax dollars.

    Businesses have to do whatever they can at this point to get by.


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