* 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.