Published On: Tue, Jan 23rd, 2018

Illinois Governor Prohibits Lawmakers from Handling Property Tax Appeals

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is prohibiting lawmakers form handling property tax appeals, ending a property tax system that he calls unethical and immoral.

Rauner was joined by homeowners in Chicago at a news conference, where he announced the executive order that prevents lawmakers from arguing cases in front of the Illinois State Tax Appeals Board.

Under the current system, Rauner says homeowners have to hire politically connected law firms to fight high property taxes. The state governor says the system to appeal high property taxes is rigged.

In addition to his executive order, Rauner also proposed a law that prevents lawmakers from making money off of tax appeals.

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“Chicago homeowners often receive assessments that are much higher than what their homes are worth,” says property tax attorney Gary H. Smith. “When people receive inflated assessments of the values of their homes, they can compare the sales prices of other, similar homes in their neighborhoods or use market analyses to help prove the values of their homes. In some cases, incorrect information about their homes can also lead to inflated assessments.”

Rauner says cutting property taxes will bring people and businesses back to the state. More than 33,000 people left Illinois in 2017. Many Illinoisans who left the state say high property taxes forced them to leave. The state has some of the highest property tax rates in the country.

“Our system is broken because it’s full of conflicts of interest, corruption [and] abuse,” said Rauner. “Our system in Cook County is rigged against taxpayers and homeowners, and it’s discriminatory — it hurts families in the South suburbs disproportionately.”

Rauner has called for the resignation of Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, who he claims has repeatedly overvalued businesses and homes in the county.

An investigation by ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune found that Madigan & Getzendanner, a firm owned by House Speaker Michael Madigan, has made appeals on more than $8 billion in assessed property values since 2010 when Berrios took office. Madigan has earned millions of dollars since then.

The governor promised to introduce a bill that would give residents the ability to lower or freeze property taxes through a referendum.

“Illinois has too many terrific assets — a tremendous workforce, world-class educational institutions and an unparalleled transportation hub, to name a few — to allow high taxes to continue to drain our economy,” said Rauner.

The Illinois governor also noted that the state has the third-highest property tax rate in the country, and more mortgages under water than 48 other states.

Lawmakers are also prohibited from representing individuals before the Court of Claims or Workers’ Compensation Commission. Rauner’s proposal adds the Property Tax Appeals board to that list.

Several homeowners attended the conference. One said he purchased his home for $170,000 ten years ago. Today, he says it is worth $120,000, and his property taxes amount to $8,000 per year.

Another woman purchased her home for $257,000 in 2011, and it is now worth $190,000. The Cook County Assessor’s Office says her home is valued between $290,000 and $300,000, pushing her property taxes to $12,698 per year.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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