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Tax shocker: Bill may rise 18.5%

A Civic Federation study concludes that Evanston homeowners will see a median 18.5 percent boost in property taxes this year if the state legislature fails to extend the seven percent cap on property tax increases.

A Civic Federation study concludes that Evanston homeowners will see a median 18.5 percent boost in property taxes this year if the state legislature fails to extend the seven percent cap on property tax increases.

The increase would result from the expiration of the tax increase cap and the triennial reassessment of property in the city by the county assessor.

The forecast hike in Evanston would be less than the average 25.8 percent increase the nonpartisan government watchdog group forecasts for the six north suburban communities it studied.

Schaumburg would see a 30.9 percent increase, while Wilmette taxpayers would average a 12.9 percent boost according to the Civic Federation's figures.

The group says Chicago homeowners would face a much larger median increase — 43.6 percent.

The state legislature is currently debating whether to renew the the cap and whether to raise the ceiling on its benefit.

Some business groups have argued against extending the cap, saying it unfairly shifts the property tax burden onto commercial properties.

But the Civic Federation study concludes that — because values for residential properties have risen much faster recently than those for commercial properties — commercial property owners would still see a reduction in their tax burden if the cap is extended at its current level.

The tax cap is structured as an expansion of the homeowner's exemption. The amount of the exemption increases from $5,000 up to $20,000 in an effort to keep a house's taxable assessed value from rising more than 7 percent a year.

If the tax cap is renewed with the current $20,000 ceiling, Evanston homeowners would see an 11.8 percent boost in median tax bills. That's because most homeowners here would hit the $20,000 limit.

If instead the tax cap is renewed with the $60,000 ceiling contained in a bill approved by the state senate, the median homeowner in Evanston would see a 1.9 percent decrease in taxes. Only 30 percent of homeowners here would reach the ceiling of the tax break and the median homeowner would see an exemption of $45,564.

The Civic Federation says it does not support raising the maximum exemption to $60,000. It argues that would shift too much of the tax burden onto other property classes.

But Civic Federation President Laurence Msall says renewing the cap at the $20,000 level would be desirable to provide a "shock absorber" and give stability to the property tax system.

Related link

Full text of Civic Federation study

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