Cook County Clerk David Orr's office on Monday released the 2009 property tax rates for more than 1,500 taxing agencies in Chicago and suburban Cook County.
This completes a process that started last December when each local taxing district, as required by law, filed its levy with the Clerk's office. Each levy represents the amount of revenue an individual taxing body has requested to collect from the property tax.
"The Clerk's office receives the levies - which are the amounts of tax money requested by each jurisdiction - and calculates the tax rates based on state law," said Bill Vaselopulos, director of the Clerk's Tax Extension Department.
Tax rates are calculated by using the amount of dollars levied by the taxing agency and the value of all taxable property located within its boundaries.
Under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, each Cook County taxing body with a statutory ceiling has its levy adjusted to the maximum amount based on the statutory ceiling for the district and the previous year's total equalized assessed value of property, plus the value of any new construction.
This calculation can restrict the agency from receiving the full amount of its levy. Statutory rate limits apply to most categories of taxing agencies, but not to home rule units such as the City of Chicago and the County of Cook.
In accordance with the tax cap requirements of the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, the revenue that agencies may collect is further limited, in most cases, to a 0.1 percent increase over the prior year's extension. Home rule agencies are exempt from this limitation. Next year, tax revenues will be limited to 2.7 percent more than the amount extended this year based on the Consumer Price Index released in January, 2010.
According to Vaselopulos, the equalization factor issued by the Illinois Department of Revenue increased this year to 3.3701, up 13.14 percent from 2.9786 last year. The Department calculates the factor needed to bring the total assessed value of all properties to a level equal to 33⅓ percent of the market value of all Cook County real estate.
For Chicago homeowners, legislation passed this spring, PA 96-1418, means they may again take advantage of the Alternative Homestead Exemption, commonly known as the "7 percent assessment cap" along with other Cook County residents. Originally scheduled to sunset starting with the 2009 taxes for Chicago residents, the program has been extended at a maximum exemption level of $20,000 for Chicago homeowners this year, phasing down in subsequent years. This new law covers a full three year reassessment cycle in each section of the county, starting at $20,000, then decreasing to $16,000 and to $12,000 in its final year.
The exemption, first enacted in 2004, annually phases in a 7-percent increase of a property's taxable value, subject to maximums which have varied under different versions of the program. Suburban Cook is governed by the program as amended in 2007, which gradually reduced the exemption's maximum value from $33,000 to $20,000. Residents of the northern suburbs, in their third year under that provision, will be limited to a maximum $20,000 this year, down from $26,000 last year. South suburban residents will be eligible for a maximum $26,000 this year, down from $33,000 last year. The minimum exemption for all Cook County homeowners is $6,000, Vaselopulos said.
Vaselopulos added that some homeowners continue to be eligible for a long-time homeowner exemption that can provide additional relief to income-eligible homeowners who have lived in their homes at least 10 years, or five years if the home was purchased under certain assistance programs. Under the program, qualifying taxpayers are not restricted to the maximum exemption amounts that would otherwise apply but would get varying benefits based on their qualifying income.
The Senior Citizen Exemption entitles qualifying residents to an additional $4,000 exemption.
A sample of how to calculate a tax bill is included in the 2009 Cook County Tax Rates Report. The impact of suburban tax rates can be figured by substituting the sample suburban rate with actual suburban rates.
To download the 2009 Cook County tax rates and to view reports showing levy and valuation detail by taxing district visit www.cookcountyclerk.com.