The measure expanded property tax exemptions for seniors, crashing total assessed values in some towns

August 30, 2018 

A Cook County tax bill

A state law designed to give all Cook County homeowners a break on their property taxes may have done the opposite for owners of commercial and renter-occupied properties, especially in the city’s less affluent south suburbs.

More than 30 towns in south suburban Cook County lost between 5 and 16 percent of their total assessed property values after hundreds of homes disappeared from the tax rolls, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis.

That meant the municipalities were forced to either redistribute taxes away from single-family homes, or face sharply less revenue.

The law passed in Springfield last year raised the state’s senior homestead exemption for taxes in Cook County, meaning homeowners 65 and older could suddenly shave $8,000 off their assessed property values, instead of the original $5,000. The law also expanded the pool of seniors who were allowed to freeze their property tax growth from year to year.

As a result, wealthier suburbs like Glencoe, Evanston and River Forest lost roughly 1 or 2 percent of their total assessed property values, while smaller south suburbs like Harvey lost 11 percent.

This year’s re-assessment of Chicago properties jacked up the tax burden on many homes in the city’s wealthier North Side, raising some value assessments by as much as 76 percent over the city’s last round of evaluations in 2015.