Toilets and skyscrapers

By Ted Dabrowski, Wirepoints | May 7, 2019


Chicagoland’s political elite know exactly how to pass the property-tax buck onto everyone else. They use their powerful connections to cut their own property tax bills and push the costs onto other unsuspecting residents. And that’s left many lower-income homeowners footing ever-larger tax bills.

The latest, most blatant example is Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s removal of toilets from one of his two Chicago mansions. Pritzker ripped out the toilets and convinced then-Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios the home was “uninhabitable.” That move tanked the assessed value of the home and reduced Pritzker’s property tax bill by nearly $100,000. His tax savings became tax hikes for other homeowners.

While Pritzker’s actions are scandalous, they are nothing new in Illinois. House Speaker Mike Madigan and Chicago Alderman Ed Burke’s law firms have been helping commercial property owners in Chicago lower the assessed values of their buildings for decades, to values far lower than the buildings are worth. That’s where the big dollars are.

But Pritzker’s actions exemplify exactly how the system works. Learn the tricks, "torture the data," hire a well-connected lawyer and get the assessor’s buy-in. Just like that, a tax bill is cut.

And just like that, your tax bill is pushed up whether you're in Cook County or downstate. Learn how that happens by reading Toilets and skyscrapers: How Chicagoland’s elite push their property tax bills onto ordinary residents.

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