Tax system 'stealing' equity from homeowners, Illinois Opportunity Project co-founder says
If suburban Chicago property tax owners don't revolt over falling home values and rising property taxes, they won't revolt at all, the co-founder of a liberty-minded advocacy group said.
"The people say 'no'," Pat Hughes, co-founder of the Illinois Opportunity Project (IOP), said during a recent edition of Illinois Rising. "That's why enrollment is down, because they're leaving, people are saying 'no'. There's no way to sustain this over time and, look, we've talked about this previously and we've talked about it privately. If you can't stoke a revolt over everyone losing their No. 1 investment, their only way to plan for a future, their only way to leave something behind for generations to come, if you can't stoke a revolt over that, you can't do it over anything."
Hughes made those comments during a conversation with his IOP co-founder and Illinois Rising co-host Dan Proft. Proft also is a principal of Local Government Information Services (LGIS), which owns this publication.
Hughes and Proft were responding to property tax analysis of Chicago's northwest suburbs published earlier this month in North Cook News, one of several news outlets owned by Proft. Although that analysis was confined to one area, Proft said it's little different from other areas of the state were homeowners are paying too much in property taxes.
"It's the same story," Proft said. "It's the same story no matter where you go. It's just how much damage is being done by the state's predatory property tax classification system and, of course disproportionately and negatively impacting the poor. But everybody is getting crushed, everybody is having their home equity stolen out underneath them. Everyone is in the position of not owning their home but renting it from the government. Some middle to upper middle incomes in northwest Cook are no exception."
North Cook News' published analysis highlighted the case of a 90-year-old Skokie woman who, faced with a very high tax assessment of her home and an even higher tax bill, ended up selling her home of more than half a century for less than a third of its assessed value.
"She was getting taxed on $240,000 of equity that she doesn't have," Hughes said.
She isn't alone, Proft said.
"That's just an egregious example, particularly of someone who made a life for themselves, to reach the age of 90 in Illinois, and then just have their home taken," he said. "These are government taken. Here's the story. Median home prices in 2007 to 2015 in northwest suburban Cook: Wheeling, down 46 percent; Streamwood, 42 percent; Des Plains, down 42 percent; Niles, down 41; Morton Grove, down 40; Skokie, down 39; Rolling Meadows, 39; Lincolnwood 37; Oak Grove Village, 37; Schaumburg, 36; Prospect Heights, 36; Palatine, 35; all the way down to the least negatively impacted Arlington Heights. They're fortunate, over that 8-year period, they've only seen their effective home value go down 20 percent."
Hughes said that it isn't only government that drives down home values.
"Some of that, Dan, is the market," Hughes said. "The market was valued higher, and now it's valued lower. But so much of it is the fact that no one can come in and buy those homes for what they ordinarily would be worth because the nut they have to crack on the property taxes make it unattainable for them. And that's what drives these values down."
However, Proft said that home values in Illinois may go up and down but property taxes go only one way.
"Your values go up, your property taxes go up," Proft said. "Your home values go down, your property taxes go up. They always go up. And for people to say, 'Oh, in 2007, that was right before the bubble, the height of the market.' It doesn't matter, it's the same story."
Organizations in this Story
208 South La Salle Street
Chicago, IL 60604