The Chicago Tribune today published the first in a three-part series showing how Illinois property tax assessments contribute to rising inequality while failing to fund schools:
The valuations are a crucial factor when it comes to determining property tax bills, a burden that for many determines whether they can afford to stay in their homes. Done well, these estimates should be fair, transparent and stand up to scrutiny.
But that’s not how it works in Cook County, where Assessor Joseph Berrios has resisted reforms and ignored industry standards while his office churned out inaccurate values. The result is a staggering pattern of inequality.
The assessor’s office says it does not check its own work for fairness and accuracy, as is standard practice for assessors around the world.
So the Tribune stepped in, compiling and analyzing more than 100 million property tax records from the years 2003 through 2015, along with thousands of pages of documents, then vetting the findings with top experts in the field. The process took more than a year.
The conclusion: Residential assessments have been so far off the mark for so many years that the credibility of the entire property tax system is in doubt.
I've advocated for my entire adult life in favor of progressive income taxes and against regressive property and value-added taxes. I hope the Tribune gets some traction on this.