Illinois property taxes are systematically broken and need to be fixed

At the end of the year, my family and I join with over a thousand other local landowners in Sangamon County to pay higher property taxes due to the annexation of our property in the district. of Springfield Park.

Last year, amid the global health and financial crisis, we were told that the District of Springfield Park would vote to broaden its tax base by foreclosing on new properties to fill the ‘donut holes’ around the county – including l ‘one was our western home.

The process of annexation or addition of properties, enshrined in law, is flawed and does not allow the proposed owners to have the opportunity to oppose or fight the annexation before it is passed. To make matters worse, Governor Pritzker’s COVID-19 capacity mandate limited the only public meeting to discuss the issue to 50 people – including members of the park board. Despite these challenges, we quickly organized ourselves with other owners who were in the process of annexation and I was selected to testify on our behalf.

My testimony focused on the impact of the tax on our families and our finances, but also on the undemocratic process which allowed the annexation.

Despite our overwhelming opposition and demands for more time and transparency, the park board voted to annex the 1,020 new properties and increase our taxes anyway.

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Although the park council ultimately acknowledged our objections, it defended its choice, saying it was following Illinois state law. Local government units throughout Illinois are able to use loopholes in state law that allow involuntary annexation of property with little or no opportunity for those affected to have their voices heard.

While I continue to oppose this decision and the process they used to make it, the issue is bigger than our community or our properties. This is just one story that represents the incredible systemic property tax problem we have all over Illinois.

Kiplinger recently examined the tax friendliness of the 50 states based on the sum of income, sales, and property taxes paid by a hypothetical middle-class couple with two children. Illinois has been ranked # 1 in the least tax-efficient states for middle-class families in the country, in large part because we have the second-highest property taxes in the country.

My husband and I currently have nine local tax assessments on our property bill and now, following annexation, we will have a 10th. This additional tax is difficult at any time, but it is particularly devastating as businesses and families struggle to recover from a global financial crisis.

I grew up here in Sangamon County and while we do everything we can to fend for ourselves and continue to raise our family here, it demoralizes me that our tax burden takes so many people away from all that Illinois has to offer. . According to the 2020 census, Illinois joined Mississippi and West Virginia as the only states in the country to have lost population in the past 10 years.

We hear a lot of lawmakers talking about reducing property taxes, yet we continue to wait for real reform. Illinois residents deserve true transparency about why and how these taxes continue to rise nationally and locally. Now, more than ever, we must elect leaders who are ready to recognize and take action to address this massive problem before it is too late.

The system is broken and those who abuse it have no incentive to fix it. Politicians keep making and breaking tax cut promises, never taking meaningful action.

Property tax reform is a complex and immense challenge, but one that, if passed, would change the course of Illinois for future generations. We need state-level leaders who are ready to stand up and tackle this problem – not just talk about it.

We are just one family, out of over a thousand, who were annexed without our consent, without due process and without proper notice. We need leaders who will fight for the finances of families – not the purse strings of politicians.

Kelly Thompson is a project manager at the Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group (IERG), a subsidiary of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

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