Cook County Clerk David Orr's office today released the 2007 property tax rates for more than 1,200 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 amount 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 2.5 percent increase over that from the prior year's extension. Home rule agencies are exempt from this limitation.
Next year, tax revenues will be limited to 4.1 percent more than the amount extended this year based on the Consumer Price Index released in January, 2008. Revenue needed to pay bonds is excluded if the bonds fall under the district's total bond indebtedness as of March 1, 1995.
According to Vaselopulos, the equalization factor issued by the state increased this year to 2.8439 percent, up 5 percent from 2.7076 last year.
Under legislation enacted in 2007, north suburban homeowners will be eligible this year for higher homeowner exemption amounts under the Alternative Homestead Exemption provisions of the Property Tax Code, commonly known as the "7-percent assessment cap."
This program, first enacted in 2004, acts to phase in each year a 7-percent increase of a property's taxable value. In 2007, the legislature increased the maximum exemption from an earlier limit of $20,000, restructuring the program so exemptions decease in each of the three years following reassessment. The highest level, $33,000 for the first reassessment year, applies to north suburban homeowners this year.
Vaselopulos noted that standard maximum drops to $26,000 in the second year after reassessment -- Chicago homeowners this year and northern suburban residents next year. South suburban homeowners, being reassessed now for the 2008 taxes to be collected in 2009, still fall under the $20,000 maximum this year. The minimum exemption is $5,000 for all Cook County homeowners, Vaselopulos said.
Vaselopulos added that this year a new long-time homeowner exemption program can provide additional relief for 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. They can be granted an exemption of all taxable value in excess of an annual increase of either 7 percent or 10 percent in the taxable value, with no limitation, calculated from the same base as the Alternative Homestead Exemption.