NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 27, 2007

Lawmakers in Illinois are leaning toward an overly complicated property tax bill that ultimately scales back relief for most homeowners.  That measure is better than letting the current tax program expire this year, but neither is a very good solution, says the Chicago Sun-Times.


  • The current program allows people to exempt up to $20,000 of their home's taxable value in order to limit the value's growth to 7 percent a year, or 21 percent for three years.
  • In Chicago, where many areas saw double-digit increases when they were reassessed last year, the median tax bill this fall would go up 18.4 percent if the program were continued as is; without it, the median bill would rise 43.6 percent.

But instead of supporting the current $20,000 exemption, or even raising it to $40,000, the Legislature looks likely to approve an entirely new bill:

  • It would raise the exemption to $30,000, then drop it to $24,000 and then $18,000 before ending the program entirely.
  • But it would grant new exemptions for homeowners who have been in their homes for more than 10 years and whose household income is less than $75,000.
  • As Laurence Msall of the Civic Federation points out, that final provision makes it difficult if not impossible to analyze the impact of the change because we don't know how many people it would cover.

The property tax system is crazy enough -- without complicating things even more, says the Sun-Times.  The current program worked to spread out the huge increases of the real estate boom years without negatively affecting too many other taxpayers.  It can do it again.

Source: Editorial, "Don't add to tax misery," Chicago Sun-Times, July 27, 2007.


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