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Property-Tax Hikes 20% In Some North Side Neighborhoods

With the unprecedented late December 1st arrival of the second installment of 2021 property tax bills, many North Side Chicago homeowners will be shocked to see rent hikes of 20% or more.

“My office has finally received the figures to print 1.8 million property tax bills, said Cook County Treasurer Maria Papas.

Property owners can view, download and pay their bills online at the Cook County Treasurer’s website: Taxpayers—including homeowners and landlords—also can pay their bills at Chase Bank branches, or, in person, at Pappas’ office downtown. Property tax payments are due on December 30.

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi has blamed the Cook County Board of Review for creating higher residential tax bills this year due to its appeal decisions that reduced assessment valuations of some large downtown commercial properties, leaving many homeowners to unexpectedly bear more of the tax burden.

In Chicago, tax bills vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood, an analysis by Pappas’ office reported. Reassessment increases of 38% to 55% in Lincoln Park and Old Town and higher assessments in neighborhoods along Lake Michigan were expected to send real estate tax bills soaring. Surprisingly, our survey revealed even higher-percentage tax hikes in townships west of Western Ave.

A spot survey by the Home Front column generally found widespread 2021 tax increases ranging from 9.4% to 24.3% on an assortment of homes and small apartment buildings. Here is the tax-bill analysis:

  • Old Irving Park. The investor-owner of a red-brick six-flat south of Irving Park Rd. was billed $16,149, up a staggering 24.3% over the $12,224 paid in 2020.

  • South Avondale. The owner of a graystone 3-flat just north of Diversey Pkwy. was surprised to be billed $10,165, up a hefty 23.6% over the $7,767 paid in 2020.

  • North Avondale. The owner of a yellow-brick 2-flat just south of Addison St. was billed $8,411, up 23.6% over the $6,340 paid in 2020.

  • North Lincoln Square. The owner of a yellow-brick 4-flat building was billed $9,704, an increase of 21.2% over the $7,642 paid in 2020.

  • Buena Park. The owner of a large historic single-family home on a wide lot was billed a whopping $34,341, up 18.5% from $28,004 in 2020.

  • Irving Park. The owner of a stucco bungalow in the Villa Historic District was billed $10,519, up 15.4% from $8,896 in 2020.

  • Old Town. The owner of a brownstone 6-flat in the Old Town Historic District received a bill of $23,929, an increase of 9.5% over the $21,652 paid in 2020.

  • Logan Square. The owner of a graystone 4-flat north of Logan Boulevard was billed $13,414, up 9.4% over the $12,144 paid in 2020.

“The property-tax bill is determined by four factors: the assessment, the equalization factor, or ‘multiplier,’ the tax rate, and the exemptions,” said Michael Griffin, a Chicago real estate tax appeal attorney.

The three primary exemptions are the Homeowner’s, Senior Citizen, and Senior Freeze. The Homeowner’s exemption recently was increased to $10,000 from $7,000, and the Senior Exemption was hiked to $8,000 from $5,000.

Those exemption amounts are deducted from the tax bill, which is the result of the assessment multiplied by the tax rate and by the multiplier.

Also, more seniors can qualify for the Senior Freeze because the Illinois Legislature recently increased the maximum annual income to receive the freeze to less than $65,000 from less than $55,000.

“Every homeowner should review their tax bill to see if they received the proper exemptions, and contact the assessor if the exemptions are incorrect,” Griffin advised.

However, predicting a hefty future property tax increase really centers on two wild cards—the tax rate and the state equalization factor, which can’t be challenged by taxpayers.

The equalization factor, or “multiplier,” is established each year for Cook County to bring property tax assessments in line with other parts of Illinois. The factor is determined by the Illinois Department of Revenue.

The tax rate in Chicago eased slightly to 6.723% per $100 of assessed valuation from $6.911 a year earlier. And, the 2021 state equalization factor, designed to make assessments uniform statewide, declined to 3.0027% per $100 of assessed valuation from 3.2234% a year earlier.

“With projected income from assessments rising sharply, some experts are wondering why the tax rate in the city of Chicago did not go down more?” asked Griffin.

The main engine that drives up property-tax bills is the amount of money spent by local governments. For example, homeowners who read their 2021 tax bills will see continued increased spending for schools and police, firefighter and teacher pensions.

Property owners who think they are over assessed should appeal now, Griffin advises.

Visit the assessor’s website:, or call 312-443-7550 to find comparable properties or start the appeal process. The Assessor is now working through the appeals process for 2022 where the north suburbs are being reassessed.

A taxpayer can file with the Cook County Board of Review (312-603-5542) or and later with the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board (217-785-6076), or Or, call Michael Griffin, an expert tax-assessment lawyer, at 312-943-1789.

For more housing news, visit Don DeBat is co-author of “Escaping Condo Jail,” the ultimate survival guide for condominium living. Visit


“The book is Escaping Condo Jail by Sara Benson and Don DeBat. I would say that anybody thinking about buying a condo, or even anybody serving on a condo board, or anybody who has any connection to a condo, this is must reading—all 600 and something pages. Thanks a lot for a great book!”


Steve Sanders, “Your Money Matters” WGN TV, December 22, 2014

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