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Kaegi, BFC argue for abolishing PTAB

Tuesday, Aug 3, 2021

* Last week

The Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board has decided former President Donald Trump is due a $1 million refund on his skyscraper’s 2011 tax bill, ruling last month that the Cook County Board of Review overestimated the value of the building’s hotel rooms and retail space.

But the Cook County State’s Attorney has filed suit with the Illinois Appellate Court, seeking to block the tax refund, which has yet to be issued.

If Trump ends up with the tax refund, it would come out of property taxes due to the city of Chicago and eight other government agencies, including Chicago Public Schools, which stands to lose the biggest chunk of money, about $540,000.

It’s the latest twist in the case originally filed by Ald. Edward M. Burke, whose law firm argued Cook County officials had over-assessed Trump’s skyscraper.

* Sun-Times op-ed by Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and former House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie

If ever we needed more evidence that the experiment of extending PTAB’s jurisdiction to Cook County was an enormous mistake, this valentine to Trump and Burke is it. The decision to create a fourth property tax appeals venue in Cook County, in addition to internal appeals at the assessor, the Board of Review, and the Circuit Court, was hastily made 26 years ago in the dead of the night, introduced five days before the Republican-led General Assembly’s end of session, and passed 72 hours later, with little debate.

Experts predicted disaster. Cook County Assessor Thomas Hynes said PTAB was “doomed to fail” and would “bring upheaval to the entire property tax system.” The Chicago Tribune said the change was “needless duplication,” and risked “throwing into chaos [the] tax assessment system.” The Civic Federation was “strongly opposed.” On the other hand, property tax appeals lawyers celebrated, with one jubilant but anonymous practitioner quoted as saying the change would “create a revolution in this business.”

Later, in 2003, when a financial shock wave began to hit schools and taxpayers, the Senate passed a bill to reverse the experiment. But the bill — supported by the City of Chicago — died in the House. Springfield has taken no action since.

Now, the predictions are coming to pass, with hundreds of millions in refunds already paid out and the toll growing year after year. In a 2019 study by the Civic Federation, PTAB-driven tax refunds in Cook County alone had risen at a roughly 20% annual compound growth rate from 2003 through 2017, by which time annual payouts were over $100 million per year. The study cautioned that even this figure was incomplete, because PTAB was still just getting going on the case backlog from the early 2010s.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

23 Comments
  1. - Lucky Pierre - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 2:21 pm:

    Selective outrage about terrible legislation hastily passed in the dead of night at the end of the session by former Leader Currie


  2. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 2:22 pm:

    ===in the dead of night at the end of the session by former Leader Currie===

    lol

    It was passed by the GOP majority.


  3. - Commissar Gritty - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 2:28 pm:

    Trump properties not as highly valued as he claims them to be? I’m shocked, agasp I say!


  4. - Lucky Pierre - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 2:31 pm:

    That is why I said it was selective outrage Rich.

    The only bad laws passed in the dead of night are by Republicans


  5. - City Zen - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 2:34 pm:

    “The decision to create a fourth property tax appeals venue in Cook County, in addition to internal appeals at the assessor, the Board of Review, and the Circuit Court”

    Don’t Will County property owners have access to all these entities as well? Why should they get access to PTAB and not Cook?


  6. - Lucky Pierre - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 2:37 pm:

    “On the other hand, property tax appeals lawyers celebrated, with one jubilant but anonymous practitioner quoted as saying the change would “create a revolution in this business.”

    Hmm, no wonder Leader Currie was not able to persuade Speaker Madigan and her caucus to repeal this terrible legislation for the past two decades.


  7. - AndJusticeForAll - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 2:50 pm:

    PTAB refunds are up 20% because Fritz Kaegi does a terrible job. If his assessments were anywhere close to accurate, there would be no refunds from PTAB. Cook County’s equalizer rose to more than 3.2, up by more than 10%. This is the “grade” the Assessor gets for the job he does. The smaller the number, the better the job. The higher the number, the worse the job. Kaegi just got a big fat F. If he did a better job, the Board of Review and PTAB would be irrelevant. Complaining about Trump getting a refund is ridiculous. If he did his job, there wouldn’t be a refund. Instead Kaegi would gladly punish every small mom and pop business and homeowner, by removing an independent and non-political review of his work. Terrible


  8. - low level - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 3:05 pm:

    Yep. Will never forget that debate. Maureen Murphy presenting the bill; Daniels had to come back to the chair quite a bit when other GOP assistant leaders couldn’t handle it. No one being able to understand why Murphy would seem to go out of her way to further provoke Tom Hynes. If he needed any further convincing of the need to bring the 19th ward into the fight to regain the IL House, this bill put it to rest.


  9. - Excitable Boy - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 3:05 pm:

    - Selective outrage -

    So you’re in support of expanded government that apparently benefits property tax attorneys. Noted.


  10. - Incandenza - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 3:08 pm:

    == persuade Speaker Madigan ==

    Still living rent free. The point of an op-ed is that they are selective by nature.

    Your only criticism seems to be whataboutism


  11. - Sox Fan - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 3:11 pm:

    PTAB clearly needs reform/elimination, but a sitting assessor arguing that taxpayers’ ability to appeal should be diminished needs to be taken with a grain of salt.


  12. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 3:17 pm:

    Like all Illinois bad ideas, it sounds populist on paper: another avenue for regular citizens to appeal their high property taxes. In reality, it’s just another avenue for rich people and their connected attorneys to get breaks and leave everyone else with the bill. The solution, at the end of the day, was to have someone in the Assessors office who could implement honest assessments that didn’t need multiple appeal channels to “get right.”


  13. - DMC - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 3:21 pm:

    NIU Grad - that would mean solving problems when they start as opposed to the end. We do this all the time.


  14. - Just a guy - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 3:23 pm:

    - NIU Grad - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 3:17 pm:

    Like all Illinois bad ideas, it sounds populist on paper: another avenue for regular citizens to appeal their high property taxes. In reality, it’s just another avenue for rich people and their connected attorneys to get breaks and leave everyone else with the bill. The solution, at the end of the day, was to have someone in the Assessors office who could implement honest assessments that didn’t need multiple appeal channels to “get right.”

    You mean pay someone in a government position to do it right the first time? That’s an incredibly ingenious idea…and it actually keeps all of those property tax attorney/legislator types scrambling to find another way to line the pockets. If only we had some folks that were willing to do that for Joe Taxpayer.


  15. - sharpie - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 4:26 pm:

    If Rogers Park and West Township are any indications of “getting it right the first time” the Board of Review, PTAB and the Circuit Court should get ready for a record number of appeals.


  16. - Cannonball - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 4:41 pm:

    Love me some BFC but not sure she should be weighing in here in a public way. The PCB often is called upon to rule on property tax matters affecting pollution control facilities.


  17. - low level - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 5:08 pm:

    The PCB is called on to rule on prop tax matters for pollution control facilities? Can you give an example? I’ve never heard of that ( although my knowledge of PCB is limited as well.)


  18. - thisjustinagain - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 5:13 pm:

    I had to file with the Cook County Board of Review after the assessor insisted that my property (without a garage) went up in value, while comparable properties with garages went down. The assessor insisted they got it right at their level of appeal, the BOR analysts all agreed my property was over-valued AGAIN, and reduced it.


  19. - Blue Dog - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 5:42 pm:

    JB pritzker and trump no all the angles.


  20. - truthteller - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 5:54 pm:

    PTAB is a sham, needs to go. The loss of school funds thru property tax appeals at the state level is staggering. Lots easier to buy off PTAB than local assessors


  21. - Captain Obvious - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 6:04 pm:

    PTAB is my best friend in state government. If my local assessor had been doing his job, I would never have needed to appeal to the PTAB. Saved thousands over the years I have owned my home be getting the ill conceived state multiplier removed from my assessment.


  22. - James - Tuesday, Aug 3, 21 @ 7:39 pm:

    =Lots easier to buy off PTAB than local assessors=

    This comment is simply ignorant. If the speaker has facts that support it, let’s hear them.

    I am familiar with most of the PTAB ALJs for many years, and they, as a group, are what the public would hope for in judges: honest, experienced lawyers with good judicial temperaments, who seek to follow the law in the cases before them.

    It’s understandable that Assessor Kaegi would prefer that his assessment decisions be final. He ran his Chief Policy Officer in a Board of Review primary (he lost) in an attempt to elect a friendly colleague into one of three slots on the Cook County Board of Review. Both the Board of Review and PTAB review and make changes to Kaegi’s assessment determinations. Now that Trump won a favorable ruling before PTAB, the Assessor attacks, not the ruling, but the institution PTAB. Attacking PTAB for ruling in favor of Trump is populist talk that sells to the uneducated.

    Has Assessor Kaegi or Barbara Flynn Currie actually reviewed the pleadings in the Trump case? For that matter, has the AG, who is suing to block the ruling, done so? If so, what is the flaw in PTAB’s ruling?

    I’ll take this one step further. Though I am a Democrat and thoroughly dislike Trump, if he has a valid claim that he was wronged by a local official’s decision, is he not entitled, like the rest of us, to seek justice in the courts and administrative tribunals?

    Has Assessor Kaegi or Barbara Flynn Currie


  23. - DTAG - Wednesday, Aug 4, 21 @ 12:43 am:

    ===PTAB refunds are up 20% because Fritz Kaegi does a terrible job. If his assessments were anywhere close to accurate, there would be no refunds from PTAB. Cook County’s equalizer rose to more than 3.2, up by more than 10%. This is the “grade” the Assessor gets for the job he does. The smaller the number, the better the job. The higher the number, the worse the job. Kaegi just got a big fat F. If he did a better job, the Board of Review and PTAB would be irrelevant. Complaining about Trump getting a refund is ridiculous. If he did his job, there wouldn’t be a refund. Instead Kaegi would gladly punish every small mom and pop business and homeowner, by removing an independent and non-political review of his work. Terrible===

    So many things wrong with this comment.  I’d be surprised if PTAB has actually ruled on a Cook County appeal from an assessment from 2018-present when Kaegi has been assessor.  The equalizer of 3.2 has more to do with the 25-10 rule.  The equalizer is intended to make it so that the tax paid is on approximately a third of market value.  When residential is valued at 10% it takes an “equalizer” of 3.3 to get you to 33.33%. As for not needed the BOR or PTAB if Kaegi did a better job, I mean he is human, no one is going to be perfect. 

    ===Love me some BFC but not sure she should be weighing in here in a public way.===

    Just read the floor debate, BFC spoke against the bill.  Her comments start on page 337

    https://www.ilga.gov/House/transcripts/Htrans89/HT052495.pdf


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