CHICAGO—Cook County’s latest property tax hike disproportionately affected black and Latino communities, according to the first-of-its-kind analysis under Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas published Aug. 17.
“Our research shows that inequities in the property tax system persist, particularly for businesses and Black and Latino property owners, and especially in the south suburbs. The 2020 property tax increases are exacerbating financial stresses in these communities and thwarting economic progress and generational wealth-building,” Pappas said in a written statement.
Among the top ten municipalities ranked by homeowner property tax increases, six are majority black or Latino. For example, Bellwood with the highest rate hike—at 28.5 percent—has a black population of 74 percent; Robbins, with the third-highest rate hike of 20 percent, has a black population of over 80 percent.
Across Cook County, total assessed homeowner property taxes increased by only 1.3 percent in 2020.
Among the top ten municipalities ranked by commercial property tax increases, seven have a majority of black or Latino population.
Ford Heights has the highest rate hike of 42 percent, and 88 percent of the community is black; in Posen, which has the third-highest rate hike of 23 percent, 58 percent are Latino.
Across Cook County, total assessed commercial property taxes increased by 6.2 percent.
Cook County’s 2020 total assessed property taxes—to be collected in 2021—increased by $534 million to $16.1 billion compared to the year before. Businesses shoulder nearly 80 percent of the total increase, at $410 million, and homeowners shoulder the rest.
Cook County is the second-most populous county in the United States after Los Angeles County with 5.2 million people in over 130 municipalities—Chicago being the largest.
In terms of median homeowner property taxes, two black-majority municipalities saw the highest dollar amount increases from 2019 to 2020.
In Bellwood, the median homeowner property tax jumped by $1,868—the largest in Cook County. Maywood, where nearly 70 percent of the population is black, saw an increase of $1,543.
In Cook County, the calculation of property taxes starts from the local governments in each municipality, which first figures out the amount they need to levy to cover local operations. Then the Cook County Assessor’s Office estimates the total value of properties. Lastly, the Cook County Clerk’s Office determines property tax rates based on the local government levy and assessed values.
The municipality with the highest tax rate in Cook County—at 34.89 percent—is Park Forest with a black population of 66 percent (pdf).
Black-majority municipalities in Cook County face some of the highest tax rates in the country, which causes a steady exit of residents and businesses, leaving remaining members of the community with increasingly higher property tax burdens.