Leaders of both the House and Senate are drafting a final version
of a tax relief measure that would cap tax assessment increases
each year at 7 percent for Cook County homeowners. The legislation
was created to provide relief to Chicago residential property owners
whose property values have skyrocketed, but would have a significant
impact on businesses.
Business leaders oppose the current version of the legislation that
would instead shift the property tax burden to small businesses,
apartment owners or renters of commercial properties. The Illinois
Department of Revenue has estimated this shift would cost these
groups at least $679 million over three years.
Throughout Cook County, homeowners are assessed at 16 percent of
assessed value compared to 38 percent for commercial and 36 percent
for industrial property owners. The classification system, the only
one of its kind in the nation, is already designed to put a heavier
burden on commercial property taxpayers than residential payers.
The tax cap proposal would shift an even higher tax burden on business
and commercial properties, and also create hardships for area schools.
Opponents of the legislation point out that existing protections
target relief for long-time homeowners and seniors on fixed incomes
as well as the homestead exemption.
There are also fears that the proposal would create a statewide
de facto classification system by allowing other counties to voluntarily
adopt the same residential assessment cap.
When finalized the measure will be sent to Governor Blagojevich
for final approval.