Cook County treasurer’s study finds property tax increases outstrip wages, cost of living

by Jason Porterfield

The suspicions of Chicago and Cook County homeowners who believe their property taxes are increasing faster than their other expenses have been confirmed. A study by the Cook County treasurer’s office found that property taxes rose by 99% in all of Cook County over the past 20 years, and by 115% in Chicago.

In 2019, about $15.6 billion were billed in all of Cook County, according to The Pappas Study. The total property taxes billed in all of Cook County in 2000 were nearly $7.9 billion. In Chicago, the total taxes increased from almost $3.3 billion in 2000 to almost $7 billion in 2019.

Residential property taxes in Chicago jumped 164% over the 20-year span, from $1.3 billion to $3.5 billion. That’s more than double the 81% increase for commercial properties in the city, which rose from about $1.9 billion to almost $3.5 billion.

In suburban Cook County, residential property taxes rose from about $2.5 billion to almost $5.3 billion, an increase of 116%. Commercial property taxes in the county rose 53%, from $2.2 billion to $3.3 billion.

In contrast, the cost of living in the region rose by 36% over the same period. Average annual salaries in the county have increased by almost 57 percent since 2000.

The study is available on the treasurer’s website. Homeowners and businesses also can visit an online calculating tool and search by address or property index number (PIN) to see how much taxes have gone up for 1.7 million properties over the past two decades. Interactive maps allow users to view overall changes by city ward or suburb.

“Homeowners and business owners in Cook County are overburdened by property taxes, a trend that began more than two decades ago and is reaching a crisis today because of the pandemic,” the report stated. “No local government office hears daily tales of financial woe more than the Cook County Treasurer’s Office, where taxpayers, especially seniors, pour out their hearts to staff along with their list of unpaid bills for property taxes, utilities, and medical care.”

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