New Assessor in November Could Equal Tax Consequences for Commercial Property Owners

After a shocking upset win by Fritz Kaegi in the Democratic primary for the Cook County Assessor over reigning Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, in the event Mr. Kaegi wins the general election in November, commercial property owners may see a significant spike in their property taxes.  Mr. Berrios had been criticized for how commercial properties were assessed during his tenure.  Specifically, some feel that he undervalued large commercial properties by dramatic proportions. In addition, Mr. Berrios’ methods for valuing buildings were heavily criticized for focusing on a property’s income rather than its recent sales price. Tax year 2018 will be Chicago property owners’ final assessment under Berrios, giving them three years until the next reassessment.

Mr. Kaegi ran on a campaign platform of a transparent system to make it clear to property owners how their buildings are assessed. His victory came despite Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, and gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker backing his opponent in the primary. Mr. Kaegi hopes the transparency will lead to fewer appeals, saving property owners money. According to a ProPublica/Chicago Tribune study, roughly 70% of commercial and industrial assessments are appealed with the Assessor’s office, far exceeding the norm. While transparency may mean less legal fees spent during the appeal process, the higher assessments could mean that commercial property owners may have to shell out much more in taxes. Assuming he wins the general election in November, Chicago’s first assessment under Kaegi will be in 2021. However, the true tax consequences of his promised transparent system will be revealed in 2019, when the northern townships will be re-assessed.

Should you have any questions about this article, please contact the real estate tax attorneys at Rock Fusco & Connelly, LLC.

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