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Report: Regressive property tax adjustments made poor pay more, rich pay less

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From Christopher Berry at the Center for Municipal Finance at The University of Chicago
Harris School of Public Policy

Abstract: This research brief proposes a method for estimating residential property tax shifting due to regressive assessments. Estimates for Chicago suggest that $2.2 billion was shifted from under- taxed properties onto over-tax properties from 2011 to 2015. Due to regressive assessments, the most expensive homes are the most likely to be under-taxed.

I estimate that roughly $800 million in property taxes was shifted from the top 10 percent of properties onto the bottom 90 percent during this period.

Go check it out.

…Adding… Chris Kennedy…

“The property tax racket run by Joe Berrios, Mike Madigan and their silent partner JB Pritzker is crushing Illinois families. Serial tax cheat JB Pritzker won’t speak out against this racket. This study confirms what I have been saying throughout this campaign because tax cheaters like JB Pritzker pay less everyone else pays more.

This is exactly the kind of abusive, insider leadership that we need to remove from the highest levels of our government.

And, we need a governor who will help lead the way. I am committed to doing just that. It’s a shame that JB Pritzker is so completely beholden to Joe Berrios that he forgives these outcomes and favors leaving Berrios in power. Together they will continue to tear apart our state and enrich only the wealthy and well-connected.

We need radical change and it starts with ending our state’s reliance on property taxes and funding our public schools fairly with state support.”

…Adding… Fritz Kaegi…

“This study vividly provides new detail on exactly how unfair and regressive Joe Berrios’ assessment system has become. Berrios has shifted billions in property taxes from the wealthiest property owners onto everyone else, taking money out of the pockets of working families and devastating communities. Neighborhoods lose people because of this theft, and it is neighborhoods on the South and West Sides of Cook County that are hit the hardest.

“This study only looks at residential assessments. We must also remember that Joe Berrios’ assessment system has created an enormous cost shift from downtown office skyscraper owners onto all residential owners.

“Joe Berrios’ assessment system caters to the wealthiest property owners, because they are the principal clients of the tax appeals industry that funds his campaign. This is pay-to-play at its very worst, and Prof. Berry provides vivid detail on the toll it has taken.”

* Related…

* Flawed Assessments Caused $2 Billion Shift in Property Taxes, Study Finds - Under Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios, assessment system shaved $1 billion from Chicago’s most expensive homes, while owners of lower-valued homes picked up the tab.


  1. - anon2 - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 3:49 pm:

    The Land of Lincoln has one of the most regressive state and local tax systems in the country. This regressive assessment system in the largest county is part of it.

    I wish our conservative brethren who get so up in arms about progressive taxation would be equally upset by regressive taxation. Actually we should be more upset, since poorer people have less ability to pay.

  2. - Incognito - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 3:50 pm:

    I am Shocked, SHOCKED to find the rich sticking it to the poor in this State.

  3. - Ron - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 3:57 pm:

    To make it worse, we have one of the highest state and local tax burdens in the nation.

  4. - Anon324 - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 3:57 pm:

    I look forward to Joe Berrios ignoring yet another study showing he and his office are either inept or corrupt, or claiming the study is flawed an inaccurate.

  5. - Ron - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 3:59 pm:

    I never calculated it before, but my RE taxes are 3.4% of our income. That is outrageous!

  6. - anon2 - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:01 pm:

    == To make it worse, we have one of the highest state and local tax burdens in the nation. ==

    That’s true for lower-income residents under our highly regressive system. It’s not true for wealthy residents.

  7. - Ron - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:02 pm:

    It’s true for everyone.

  8. - anon2 - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:04 pm:

    === I never calculated it before, but my RE taxes are 3.4% of our income. That is outrageous! ===

    That’s one the fundamental problems with real estate taxes. They aren’t based upon current income. But any time there’s a proposal to shift education funding from the unfair property tax to the fairer income tax, the GOP says hell no.

  9. - PJ - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:07 pm:

    ==It’s true for everyone.==


  10. - very old soil - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:09 pm:


    I never calculated before either. Mine is 6.15 percent and I am retired with those exemptions

  11. - anon2 - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:11 pm:

    === It’s true for everyone. ===

    If you calculate by percentage of income taken by all state and local taxes and fees, wealthy residents enjoy a much lower effective tax rate than the vast majority of the fellow Illinoisans.

    A report on 2015 taxes by the IL Economic Policy Institute found that the lowest-earning 20 percent paid 13.2 percent of their income in total state and local taxes, but the top 1 percent paid just 4.6 percent. That’s a 9.6 percentage-point difference. Put a different way, as a share of what’s coming in, poor people paid three times as much as the super-rich, because of Illinois’ high sales tax rate, non-graduated income tax and regressive property tax.

  12. - don the legend - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:11 pm:

    Ron, that is an interesting way to conclude an “outrageous” tax amount.

    A widow owns a $200,000.00 house with a tax bill of $4,000.00 on a $40,000 income from SS and an evil state pension.

    Her R/E taxes are 10% of her income

    Let’s say a widow with a $1,000,000 home pays $20,000 in taxes on a 1.0 million dollar income.

    That’s 2% of her income.

    Are both of these outrageous?

  13. - Ron - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:12 pm:

    very old, that is grotesque. This state has been destroyed by decades of kleptocrats in cahoots with public employee unions.

  14. - Ron - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:13 pm:

    Is 6.25% high? Seems middle of the road from my travels. Chicago’s is outrageous at 10.25% though.

  15. - Ron - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:15 pm:

    I’m sure we pay at least 10% when accounting for all taxes. It’s really bad for what Illinois government provides.

  16. - PublicServant - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:15 pm:

    The rich paid more

    . . . To Berrios

  17. - Ron - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:16 pm:

    sorry, the 6.25% and 10.25% were in reference to sales tax

  18. - Moist von Lipwig - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:30 pm:

    Funny how Berrios’s only recourse is to attack a university professor for not checking in with him before publishing

  19. - SOIL M - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:35 pm:

    So the elite ruling class enjoys privileges while the underclass suffers. And people are surprised. Do you really understand this Progressive/Socialism thing that you support so strongly?

  20. - Sue - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:46 pm:

    Don- 2 percent sounds bad enough but in Lake County we are paying closer to 2. 7 percent of the assessment FMV.

  21. - Blimp - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:47 pm:

    The South Suburbs need some tax relief. Or they will be ground to dust. Primarily Bremen and Thornton townships. Lots of commercial properties being abandoned to tax buyers, who in turn, don’t even buy the back taxes. And it ends up in the Cook County land bank. Homes that sell under $50K and they have close to 5K annual tax bills. That needs to change. I realize that these areas have lost their tax base, but overtaxing creates more damage.

  22. - Molly Maguire - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:49 pm:

    How many of the property taxes shifted to lower income neighborhoods are being paid by the owners of rental property, I wonder? Many families in these areas are renting.

  23. - Sue - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 4:53 pm:

    Molly- so if owners are paying instead of renters - don’t you think it’s passed thru in higher rent. Landlords aren’t all that charitable

  24. - wondering - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 5:05 pm:

    Ron, is Rauner in cahoots with the unions with his attempt to shift pension costs to the property tax? Do you think primary responsibility means 28%? Do you think real estate tax would go down if the state picked up 51% of school costs? Do you think 3.5% flat rate was ever reasonable?

  25. - Ron - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 5:17 pm:

    Local governments should pay for local government service. It help control costs.

    The 3% income tax should have been plenty.

  26. - wondering - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 5:58 pm:

    Ron, you are ducking the questions: Is Rauner in cahoots? Is the state meeting the constitutionally mandated primary responsibility for education at a 28% level? If the state did pay primary would real estate taxes you are complaining about go down?

  27. - Former Hillrod - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 6:53 pm:

    I’ve recently read that Illinois is near the bottom in number of public employees per capita as well as public employee salary per capita? How is that kleptocratic?

  28. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 7:47 pm:

    Of ncourae the state is not doing that, it never has though

  29. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 8:38 pm:

    Very Old @ 4:09
    My taxable income has fluctuated around $50K for the past several years, and my annual real estate tax has been around $4800, which equates to 9.6%.

    Also, $4800 is 3% of the true value of my home, in a close-ring Chicago suburb, the net effect of which has kept the value of the property only slightly above what I paid for it twenty years ago, yet the taxes themselves have doubled in the same period. Thank God I can afford to pay it, I know that many people have it much worse (inner-ring Chicago south suburbs, for example).

    Raise your hand if you really think the sadists who created this system will pass legislation to make it more equitable.

  30. - Anon - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 10:05 pm:

    This topic has been covered quite extensively. I thought the big news in this race today would be that Andrea Raila won her appeal, will be on the ballot and all of the signage and letters suggesting that her votes don’t count have to be summarily removed.

    There is a significant question about how her rights have been treated through all of this. Those would voted early were discouraged from casting a vote for a candidate.

  31. - Jane Burn - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 11:13 pm:

    Kaegi purchased his home for $1 million in 2012 and it was assessed for $600,000 until the new reassessment in 2017 it was assessed at $700,000 Kaegi has underpaid taxes by $10,000 each year for 6 years $60,000 tax break to Johnny come Lately who never spoke out about these tax inequities for the rich on the backs of the little guys….political opportunities come in strange packages

  32. - Jane Burn - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 11:25 pm:

    Per Tribune Editorial today “…Andrea Raila collected signatures and filed paperwork last fall to run for Cook County assessor. But due to Illinois’ Byzantine candidate filing process, she has been bounced on and off the ballot for months.

    It’s wrong for Raila, wrong for voters. Due to the uncertainty of her candidacy she hasn’t been able to campaign. She hasn’t been able to raise money. She hasn’t been invited to candidate forums. And now, following a 1st District Illinois Appellate Court ruling on Wednesday, she is officially back in the race — unless more judges intervene….Got all that? Lawmakers, you write election law. Fix your mess… Kaegi spent an estimated $213,000 keeping Raila off the ballot. And plans to blow another wad at appealing the unanimous decision of 3 appellant justices Guess he hates experts in the property tax field as much as he hates uppity female candidates

  33. - Anon - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 11:58 pm:

    Kaegi is another rich guy with an entitlement personality. He has never donated to democrats running for office, except for himself now that he is running. Of course that is all a loan to be paid back to him at a later date.

    Kaegi also has a tendency to sue in order to get his way, simply because he has the bucks to do so. Progressive in name only.

  34. - Downstate - Friday, Mar 16, 18 @ 8:10 am:

    In 40 years, Cook County has had 3 assessors. And it appears that the Democrats have held the assessors office for more than 60 years.

    If you allow the party in power to simply replace faces on the ticket without any repercussions, why would things ever change?

  35. - lake county democrat - Friday, Mar 16, 18 @ 8:50 am:

    For all the self-righteous moralizing Madigan supporters did over Rauner, they own some of this: Berrios and the firms in on the scheme stole from the most needy, nothing less.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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