Tag Archives: Illinois Property Tax

Leaving Illinois: How Simple Math Chased Away A Village Mayor & His Family

If there was one guy you’d think wouldn’t succumb to the pressures of living in Illinois, it’s Lakewood Mayor Paul Serwatka.

He’s a reformer and a fighter. In the past year he’s succeeded where most politicians refuse to go. He lowered the Village of Lakewood’s property taxes by 10 percent and eliminated a TIF district, going against the trend of higher spending and bigger tax bills in communities across the state. And he did all that without cutting services. He was showing Illinoisans what reform-oriented leadership could look like.

But every family that’s chosen to flee Illinois in recent years hit a breaking point and Serwatka finally hit his. For him, it was the risk he wouldn’t be able to care financially for his growing family.

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You can’t blame him and those families that have already left. For many, it’s become too expensive to live in Illinois. For others, good-paying working class and manufacturing jobs have disappeared. And for yet others, they’re tired of being taken for granted and mistreated by their politicians.

At the core of the decision for many families to leave is the burden of higher property taxes. They’ve become punitive in too many parts of the state, as Wirepoints has covered in detail.

That’s true even in Lakewood, a city of nearly 5,000 people located in McHenry County. Residents in that county pay some of the state’s – and the nation’s – highest effective tax rates, measured as a percentage of household incomes.

Serwatka has four young children to think about – ages 3 to 8 – and he did the basic math that many Illinois families are doing in their kitchens or family rooms. They’re comparing what their property taxes are in Illinois to what they could be in other states – and what they could do with all the money they save.

For Serwatka, his comparison city was Decatur, Alabama.

There his family found 10 acres and a house that’s 25 percent bigger than their current Illinois home, all at roughly the same cost. The Alabama house also has access to a private lake shared by some 60 homeowners. And his home in Decatur is only 20 miles from Huntsville, which is booming in all kinds of ways.

What are his Alabama property taxes going to cost him? Just $2,200 a year. That’s a lot lower than the $15,400 he’s paying on the home in Lakewood.

If Serwatka saves that $13,000 difference every year and invests it at 6 percent annually for the next 20 years, he’ll have accumulated savings of more than $600,000 dollars.

It’s a difference Serwatka and his wife, Robin, just couldn’t ignore.

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Sadly, Illinois politicians continue to push property tax rates to record levels. They are the highest in the nation, double the rate in Missouri and three times higher than those in Indiana.

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Serwatka is confident he’s delivered on the promises he made when he took office. Residents who were looking for reforms, lower taxes and more respect from their politicians got exactly that from him

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But in the end, the savings he produced as the mayor of a small town weren’t enough to offset the tax increases coming from the school district and the other myriad of local governments, not to mention the state itself.

Those taxes are now so high they’re chasing out even the reformers – those bold enough to buck the system in Illinois.

The reality is, Illinois’ failed policies discriminate against no one. People are being forced to do what’s best for their families. And if that means leaving, they’re doing it. 

Source: ZeroHedge

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The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Has A New Plan to Tax Illinoisans Fleeing Pension Liabilities

An audible gasp went out in the breakout room I was in at last month’s pension event cosponsored by The Civic Federation and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. That was when a speaker from the Chicago Fed proposed levying, across the state and in addition to current property taxes, a special property assessment they estimate would be about 1% of actual property value each year for 30 years.

Evidently, that wasn’t reality-shock enough. This week the Chicago Fed published that proposal formally. It’s linked here.

It surely ranks among the most blatantly inhumane and foolish ideas we’ve seen yet.

Homeowners with houses worth $250,000 would pay an additional $2,500 per year in property taxes, those with homes worth $500,000 would pay an additional $5,000, and those with homes worth $1 million would pay an additional $10,000.

Is the Chicago Fed blind to human consequences? Confiscatory property tax rates have already robbed hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of Illinois families of their home equity — probably the lion’s share of whatever wealth they had.

Property taxes in many Illinois communities already exceed 3%, 4% and even 5% of home values. Across Illinois, the average is a sky-high 2.67 percent, the highest in the nation.

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In south Cook County they already average over 5%. Most of those communities are working class, often African-American. The Fed says maybe you could make the tax progressive by exempting lower values, but that’s very difficult to do and, if you did somehow exempt the poor and working class, the bill pushed to the others would be astronomical.

Those rates have already plunged many communities into death spirals, demanding an immediate solution, but the Chicago Fed apparently wants to pour on more of the accelerant.

Don’t they understand that people won’t build on or improve property when property taxes are that high? When taxes are 3 percent to 6 percent, any value you add to your home is going to be taxed at that high rate forever. Have they never been to our communities with countless dis-repaired, abandoned homes and commercial properties, which are the result?

Get this, which is part of the Fed’s reasoning: “New taxes wouldn’t affect people thinking of moving to Illinois. While they would have to pay higher property taxes, that would be offset by not having to pay as much for their new homes. In addition, current homeowners would not be able to avoid the new tax by selling their homes and moving because home prices should reflect the new tax burden quickly.”

In other words, just confiscate wealth from current owners because they will pay, whether they stay or not, through an immediate reduction in home value.

This proposed tax would only address the five state pensions. What about the other 650-plus pensions in Illinois, particularly those for overlapping jurisdictions in Chicago which are grossly underfunded? The Fed was asked that at last month’s seminar and they, without explanation, said they didn’t bother to cover that.

I’ve earlier met Rick Mattoon, one of the Chicago Fed authors of the proposal. He’s a smart, likeable guy who I thought had lots of interesting information. For the life of me, however, I can’t understand how he would put his name on this proposal.

Real Property can’t leave, so seize more of it. That’s the basic idea.

Source: By Mark Glennon | Wirepoints