In 2019, the General Assembly formed a Property Tax Relief Task Force for the purpose of studying and recommending changes to the Illinois property tax and local government funding system. Although still in draft form, the Task Force has circulated its draft report of recommendations which include proposals that, if adopted, could result in substantial changes impacting Illinois taxing districts. A final report is expected to be released before the 2020 legislative session begins on January 28. The draft report’s recommended changes fall into four broad categories – levies, assessments, tax rates and tax bills.
Levies – The Task Force has endorsed increased consolidation of governmental units. The report recommends a consolidation plan intended to reduce government costs, levies and taxes. The report recognizes the complications of merging and urges any consolidation plan to address debts, bonded obligations, property and operational costs. The report also recommends several strategies to reduce tax levies and more efficiently fund education including changes to PTELL and increased reliance on State funding.
Assessments – The Task Force recommends increased commercial taxpayer accountability by requiring owners of income-producing properties like shopping centers and apartment buildings to submit operating income and expense data for use by assessment officials.
Tax Rates – The report recommends spreading revenue from industrial and commercial taxes across the county so that taxing districts countywide can benefit from the property taxes generated by the largest taxpayers.
Tax Bills – The Task Force recommends speeding up the property tax assessment appeal process by enforcing stricter evidence filing deadlines and allocating more resources to assessment review. One proposal would remove Cook County industrial and commercial appeals from the Property Tax Appeal Board, or PTAB’s, jurisdiction.
Finally, the report recommends key reforms to TIF district requirements and criteria, including shortening the timeframe for TIF districts from 23 years to ten to fifteen years and narrowing the definition of “blighted.”
These recommendations are a starting point for the General Assembly’s goal of property tax reform and will likely be subject to significant debate and adaptation even before any specific proposal is incorporated into legislation. We will continue to monitor the findings of the Task Force, the final report and pending legislation.
Please direct any questions regarding this Law Alert to your Robbins Schwartz attorney.