A new analysis of Census Bureau data says Evanston ranks seventh of nearly 600 cities in the United States in the share of housing cost represented by property taxes.

The SmartAsset study reported by Builder Online says the median cost of property taxes for a homeowner here with a mortgage represented just over 30 percent of total home ownership costs.

The median tax bill here was $8,228 and median total housing costs were $37,252, based on the latest one-year data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

SmartAsset says Illinois has the second highest property taxes in the nation — with a statewide average effective tax rate of 2.32 percent, nearly double the national average.

So, it’s not surprising that a number of other Illinois towns made the nationwide top 20 list for property tax burden, including Naperville (8), Arlington Heights (9), Schaumburg (13), Skokie (14), Palatine (15) and Bolingbrook (16).

Most of the rest of the top 20 slots are held by towns in New Jersey, which has the highest property tax bills in the nation, although the rate there averages 2.19 percent — a bit lower than in Illinois.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. property taxes and distracted driving
    Is there a relationship between property taxes and distracted driving?

  2. Is Anyone Surprised?
    For better or for worse, Illinois decided to generate most of its taxes from real estate.

    So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that our real estate taxes rank so high in the country.

    One of the more relevant questions and issues to consider is what is the Total Tax Burden in Illinois?
    People need to understand real estate, income taxes, sales taxes, gasoline taxes, etc to get the best
    perspective on the tax situation in Illinois.

    Does anyone know the answer?

    1. 2012 Data –> IL at #5
      Total state tax burden from 2012 placed IL at 5th highest in the nation according to the non-profit and non-partisan Tax Foundation:

      However, that is obviously old data and I’m sure IL has moved on up to the top three at least! Considering our 33% income tax increase and property taxes moving on up at considerable paces (perhaps related to the fact that IL has more units of local government than any other state and is one of only a few states to be losing population), there is no rational way we could be behind Wisconsin (which somehow at the same 11% total burden was ranked #4). And being in Cook county, we certainly are subject to much higher sales and gasoline taxes which aren’t included in those figures, so looking at IL doesn’t tell the whole picture of Cook county residents’ burden.

      Even with the backdrop of Illinois being high across the map (and I agree with you that property taxes is just one piece of the puzzle), there is something to be said for the fact that apparently Evanston is the HIGHEST (as a percentage of monthly housing payments) of ANY city in the state. I honestly think it’s somewhat strategic by those in charge to have extremely high taxes in Evanston to put downward pressure on house prices so they can claim that there is more “affordable” housing available (by housing price). Of couse, those costs are just passed from landlords to tenants in most circumstances so doesn’t really do anything for housing costs except shift some of the money collected by mortgages (and reducing homeowner’s ability to build more equity) to instead be collected by the city.

    2. This is a great post. Yes,
      This is a great post. Yes, our property taxes (and sales taxes) are high, but even after the state income tax increases, our income taxes are relatively low since we don’t have a progressive income tax system. It’s a complex question with a lot of variables, and how burdensome a person finds it depends on their situation.

      1. What would Progressive taxes mean ?
        A Chicago Trib article pointed out the Progressive, including Pritzker don’t describe what rates they want. If they did people could do the math and see that for any conceivable rates, the added tax would not cover new projects or pare the debt, but not even cover the increase in pension contracts, debt payments or so many other ideas they have. The “rough” ideas don’t even bring down the current rates for low or middle income taxes.
        Given what might be proposed for higher incomes [say to $1 million] using linear let alone non-linear extrapolation, Pritzker and Griffin might be in 50%+ range—how long would Citadel stay in Illinois ? Beside there not all that many ‘rich’ people to get taxed enough to pay our bills.
        Remember all the movie, rock stars and others who left England and Sweden when the marginal tax rate was 100%., The shock brought the governments back to earth !

      2. The next effective tax rate
        The next effective tax rate for someone living on theNorthshore with 500k house and 150K income with a family of 4 is 16 to 17% net effective state local rate this higher than any but NJ
        High tax states such as Minn and Cal. Are lower than Illinois and you still have equity in house not declining high end house prices do to taxes

  3. Evanston
    I hope that our city government, mainly the mayor, city council, city manager, library board, D65 and D202 school boards, etc.., get a chance to read this. If they can’t, maybe they’ll get someone to help them. It’s about high property taxes. We are 7th highest in the country. This does not include our high fees and fines. But 7th highest cost to own property. Should we be shooting for number one or should we be shooting for something closer to average.

    I hope none of you are proud of your big budgets and the number 7 claim. Maybe it is time to be more responsible and lower the spending. I remember when our schools were rated in the top 5 in the state, year after year. with property taxes less than 1k per year, on average. Now they are probably, on average, about 10,000 per year. Are they still in the top 100 in Illinois?

    What the hell went wrong with this city.

  4. Years of the Council pushing business out
    We should not be surprised at the taxes.
    The Council [many times bowing to pressure groups] pushed manufacturing out—think of Custer south of Main, Greenleaf west of Dodge (?), Dempster and Dodge, protests over Research park [nuclear free zone, animal testing] and lack of support, retail shopping [remember downtown in 80s]. Zoning and hearings that go on forever, rules and regulations that make no sense [remember charges for sign inspection–my favorite was store now Einstein’s Bagels having more chicken symbols than permitted.
    Look at all the duplication of city services, bloated administration, give aways to art groups, keeping the mansion and city hall standing long past their usefulness–and with the mansion refusing to sell to someone who can make use of it.
    Evanston can’t be everything to everyone—university town, retirement community, a town that draws the rich, young professionals, minority groups, fully integrated community [even there it failed], affordable housing everywhere [despite already being over quota], charge builders to build [esp. affordable housing], K-12 excellence [obviously failing them as we see everyday].
    Until the Council, Manager and special interest groups are reined in or replaced, we will see more and more taxes.

  5. Outrageous taxes and fees and regulations and, and, and
    And don’t forget that for over 30 years in Illinois, and a lot more in Evanston, it was democratic rule: give, give, give, spend, spend, spend.
    Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze taxpayers to death or to when they finally leave.
    Like Margaret Thatcher said, the trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

    1. What about a solution?

      organize and get someone who agrees with the sentiment expressed elected!

      1. Who would run ?
        The response to people complaining is often “get some one to run” [for the offices].
        But who would want to run and spend time and money when the Evanston residents have “drank the cool aid” for years that only Democrats/Progressives/and far left liberal will take care of them. The message is clear “no one but Democrats and Progressives [aka tax and spend] can get elected so don’t bother trying.
        I don’t know if or how many times the Democratic party has kept Republicans off the ballot but they sure did a job on the proposal for term limits.

  6. The problem is…
    One of the biggest contributors to our crazy high property taxes are (aside from poorly managed State and County government poor management) are Tax Exempt Organizations in Evanston… Top of the list is Northwestern University who continues to enjoy the benefits of an ancient covenant on tax exemptions that include non-educational assets… It is my understanding that when someone donates their house to the University, it is promptly removed from the tax rolls. Furthermore, when faculty are invited to live in these dwellings, they can send their children to public schools and the other property owner/taxpayers share this escalating burden. I have one property here in SE Evanston that has seen a 400% tax increase in 22 years!

    It’s time the University with a +$10 Bil in endowment join their peer schools in sharing the tax burden for non-educational facilities…

    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

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