Property Taxes Are Out Of Control, Let Homeowners Take The Driver’s Seat

Piecemeal fixes to the state’s property-tax problem have failed. It’s time to give the purse strings back to average Illinoisans.
by David Giuliani | Illinois Policy Institute

When Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed freezing property taxes across Illinois, Barrington Area Unit District 220 Board President Brian Battle opposed the idea.

Freeze the Levy

This isn’t the first time I’ve pointed out that local municipalities spend too much and property taxes are too high!

“I don’t understand why property taxes are an issue for the state,” he told the Daily Herald.

How could they not be an issue?

Illinois has the highest property taxes in the Midwest. In 2013, property taxes on the average Illinois home were $3,939, about 14 percent higher than runner-up Wisconsin. Neighboring Indiana’s average was $1,507. Is it any wonder Illinoisans are leaving for the Hoosier State?

When it comes to Illinois’ property taxes, a lot of hands are in the pot. Nearly 7,000 local units of government wield taxing power, far more than any other state.

Every year, each entity decides how much money it wants from property taxpayers, an amount known as a tax levy. In 63 counties, if an entity raises the levy by 5 percent or more, it must hold what it known as a “Truth in Taxation” public hearing. This is where officials explain the increase and the reasons for it. Afterward, a governing body may adopt the higher levy.

A cursory Google search will show that many entities increase their levies by 4.99 percent, the highest possible rate without triggering a public hearing. This loophole is a major driver of Illinois’ astronomically high property taxes.