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Chicagoans could vote on a graduated real estate transfer tax

Friday, Jun 30, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I don’t think this first sentence is true, although the new administration may know something the rest of us don’t. Just such a bill appeared headed for passage in 2019, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot put the kibosh on it because she refused to give homeless programs a larger cut, even though she ran on doing just that.

Either way, a binding tax referendum on Chicago’s ballot would really be quite something

Gov. Pritzker and Democratic legislative leaders oppose raising the real-estate transfer tax on high-end home sales.

With that road closed, the only avenue left for Johnson to deliver on a campaign promise his predecessor made and broke is to convince the City Council to put a binding referendum on the Chicago ballot.

“The people will decide,” [Mayor Brandon Johnson’s deputy chief of staff Cristina Pacione-Zayas] said.

Before that happens, negotiations with the real estate industry could soften the blow of an increase that, as currently proposed, would more than triple the transfer tax on Chicago homes sold for more than $1 million. The tax would go from 0.75% to 2.65%.

“Those conversations are already under way,” she said.

Chicago mayors have been loathe to put binding property tax measures in front of voters. Thoughts?

       

16 Comments
  1. - regular democrat - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:33 am:

    Since most people dont own property in Chicago over a million my guess would be it will pass.


  2. - Lurker - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:35 am:

    One thing I like about America is that minority representation is protected. If the large group wants to do something unfair, you are protected by the majority bias. Of course, the Democratic Party stems to think if you’re in the minority of being the rich, to heck with this concept(bp)


  3. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:36 am:

    ===minority representation is protected===

    Property taxes are voted on everywhere else in the state. Should they not be?


  4. - Just Me 2 - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:41 am:

    The media has been really lazy on this topic and fooled into thinking it is only a tax on “mansions” when it applies to all property. So if a developer wants to build more homes with an apartment building, something the advocates claim they want to happen, the developer now has to pay yet another tax to fund more bureaucracy.


  5. - Distant Viewer - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 11:46 am:

    This seems like a savvy move. If it passes then the revenue is there. If it fails then the Mayor can say the people decided.

    I suspect if it goes to referendum we’ll see a blanketing of the airwaves by wealthy donors similar to the state income tax campaign. That will probably doom the referendum to failure.


  6. - Suburbanon - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 12:05 pm:

    Before any referendum can or should be held, the city must demonstrate it can effectively use the money the City already has. It has a very poor track record with the programs it already operates.


  7. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 12:05 pm:

    “They include raising the real estate transfer tax to create a dedicated funding source to combat homelessness”

    This Mayor is different - he’s willing to use Dem majority to own a tax increase, rather than forcing the opposition to take some of the pain.


  8. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 12:19 pm:

    Most apartment buildings would be subject to the tax and the added expense would certainly be passed on the tenants


  9. - Amalia - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 12:23 pm:

    what poor track record with housing programs? it actually has a good one. it’s money that is needed. the million dollar threshold is good. I think they will pass that referendum


  10. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 1:04 pm:

    I guess this General Assembly is just not progressive enough to pass legislation that President Cullerton and Speaker Madigan could pass.


  11. - Frida's boss - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 1:15 pm:

    How long before Mayor Johnson and CTU propose the newly created Congestion Pricing that is going to start in NY.

    -New York lawmakers were given the green light to put in place a congestion pricing plan, which will charge drivers in parts of Manhattan.
    -The plan would be the first of its kind in the U.S.
    -“Others will look at us. Other cities are paying attention,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Tuesday. -CNBC June 27,2023

    This is the “suburban tax” that Mayor Johnson and CTU proposed in his campaign.

    Question is where will they get their 60-30-1


  12. - GC - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 1:55 pm:

    Changes to the transfer tax are virtually the only tax measure that Chicago *must* put to the voters despite being home rule. I also wouldn’t equate it to being a “property tax” although I’m sure the REALTORs will. It is a transaction-based tax.

    Evanston adopted a graduated transfer tax in 2018 (IIRC). It seems very fair to me. Their rates are…
    * 0.5% up to $1.5m
    * 0.7% up to $5m
    * 0.9% at $5m and up

    At present Chicago is 0.75% to the buyer and 0.3% to the seller, or 1.05% in total. The Sun-Times is apparently just reporting the seller’s side. More will become clear I’m sure.


  13. - City Zen - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 2:02 pm:

    ==Most apartment buildings would be subject to the tax and the added expense would certainly be passed on the tenants==

    The tax is not a bad idea in theory, but it’s structed poorly. They should target the top end real estate in each category separately: SFH, MFH, commercial, and industrial. Instead, they went the ham fisted route.

    And while the tax is levied on the buyer, it will technically be paid by the seller via a lower sales price.


  14. - Phillips Curve - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 3:52 pm:

    Levy the additional tax if the sales price exceeds $1M per zoned dwelling unit. For example, a 6 flat rental building wouldn’t pay the higher rate unless the sales price was $6M or higher.


  15. - Chris - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 4:07 pm:

    “Congestion Pricing that is going to start in NY”

    NYC has had a congestion surcharge applicable to taxis and other car services for 4 years.

    Problem in Chicago is parking revenue. Not much point implementing congestion charge, if it just goes to the meter owners.


  16. - Frida’s boss - Friday, Jun 30, 23 @ 4:46 pm:

    @Chris - I didn’t refer to taxis
    Are you willfully ignoring what I wrote? Or trying to add your own little spin?
    The NY legislature voted, the governor signed. I literally copied and pasted her comment.
    The suburban tax is coming it’s called congestion pricing, suburbanites who drive into the city will pay and NY is the trendsetter.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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