Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office on Tuesday released the 2008 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 4.1 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 0.1 percent more than the amount extended this year based on the Consumer Price Index released in January, 2009. 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 2.9786, up 4.74 percent from 2.8439 last year.
Under legislation enacted in 2007, south 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 south suburban homeowners this year
Vaselopulos noted that the standard maximum drops to $26,000 in the second year after reassessment, which affects northern suburban residents this year. Chicago homeowners, now in the third year after the 2006 reassessment, will be limited to an exemption of no more than 20,000. The program is scheduled to be phased out completely in the next reassessment cycle, starting with the 2009 reassessment of the City of Chicago.
The minimum exemption increased for the 2008 tax year, from $5,000 to $5,500, for all Cook County homeowners, Vaselopulos said. Next year this minimum is scheduled to increase to $6,000.
Vaselopulos added that some homeowners continue to be eligible under a long-time homeowner exemption program that began last year, which can provide additional relief for income-eligible homeowners who have lived in their homes at least ten 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 of the taxable value, with no limitation, calculated from the same base as the Alternative Homestead Exemption. Households with incomes under $75,000 are entitled to be limited to a 7 percent annual increase in taxable value, and those who earn more than $75,000 but under $100,000 can limit the increase in their taxable value to 10 percent annually.
The Senior Citizen Exemption entitles qualifying residents to an additional $4,000 exemption, up from $3,500 last year.
A sample of how to calculate a tax bill is included in the 2008 Tax Report. The impact of suburban tax rates can be figured by substituting the sample suburban rate with actual suburban rates.