The inequity of the Illinois real estate tax system hit home again last Thursday as I read Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown’s piece.
In it, he points out that Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas has her Water Tower Place condo up for sale for $2.9 million.
That, in itself, didn’t raise my eyebrows.
Her reported tax bill of $16,955 did.
That’s about twice my last tax bill of $8,873.66.
Guarantee you that our two houses off Crystal Lake on the busiest road in Lakewood (6,500 vehicle a day when measured about ten years ago–more than some four-lane Interstates in Western Illinois), is not worth $1.45 million, half of Pappas’ asking price.
Then, Sunday in the Sun-Times I read Governor Pat Quinn paid only $3,938 to the Cook County tax collector last year.
Zillow estimates the Governor’s digs are worth $182,500.
Let’s do some division on the percentage each of these Cook County politicians pay in property taxes each year.
$16,955 divided by $2.9 million is .0058. That looks like just a tad below 6/10 of one percent.
Even accounting for the asking price being higher that what Pappas’ place is worth, that’s a really, really low property tax bill.
$3,938 divided by $182,500 is .022 or 2.2%.
Those percentages are called “effective tax rates.”
They are the only way to cut through the complexities of property tax jargon anywhere in the world.
Divide the tax bill by the property value and you can compare property tax burdens anywhere.
If I were Pat Quinn, I’d be disturbed at the higher tax burden that he was bearing, compared to Pappas.
The Skinner household had an appraisal done and found our home was worth $305,000 on January 1, 2011. (Zillow says it’s worth $313,600.)
While it is not quite apples to apples, dividing our tax bill of $8,873.66 by that numbers indicates we paid about 2.9% of our home’s value last year (2.8%, if using Zillow’s price).
So we are paying almost one-third more for the taxes on our McHenry County home than the Governor is.
And we are paying about 500% more than Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas.
Somehow I don’t think I would have gotten that big a break were I still McHenry County Treasurer.
And if you think real estate tax inequities are just an Illinois problem for politicians, consider this (which seems to have been dropped from the most version) from a Chicago Tribune article about the Greek parliamentary elections:
“My vote was a protest vote because they cut my pension,” said 75-year-old pensioner Kalliopi, her fists clenched in anger.
“I live in a basement but pay the same (property) tax as someone who lives in a penthouse,” said Kalliopi after voting (emphasis added).