Illinois homeowners pay twice the national average for their property tax bills.
While Kevin McCallister’s joke enabled him to scare off the “wet bandits,” his tricks will be no match for Cook County’s tax officer, who comes back with a higher tax burden every year.
Property taxes for the “Home Alone” house in Winnetka, where the film was shot, will be around $ 30,201 in 2020 and a few hundred more in 2021. Since 1990, when the vacation movie starring a young Macaulay Culkin came out, homeowners have paid more than $ 890,000 in property taxes.
In 2000, Home Alone owners paid nearly $ 19,000 in property taxes. By 2007, that figure rose to over $ 30,000 per year. Recent taxes have been stable in line with volatile property values, peaking at nearly $ 37,000 in 2014.
The value of the house at 671 Lincoln Ave. in Winnetka has grown significantly in recent years, losing about $ 326,000 in value. It sold for nearly $ 1.6 million in 2012. The assessors now put the market value at nearly 1.26 million US dollars.
The property tax pain isn’t just limited to the suburbs: Chicago single-family homes were hit by average property tax increases of nearly $ 700 in the central part of the city and $ 600 in northern parts of the city in just two years, according to County Clerk reports . The south side average rose nearly $ 60, and in 2020 alone the suburbs of Cook County saw an increase of over $ 100.
The average property tax charges were $ 5,288 in north Chicago, $ 5,981 in the downtown area, and $ 2,445 on the south side. The bills for suburbs in the north and northwest averaged $ 7,537 while the bills for suburbs in the south and west averaged $ 5,813.
As if the last two increases weren’t enough, Chicago City Council has just passed another $ 94 million increase in property tax to help meet a budget deficit exacerbated by the pandemic and pension costs.
The McCallister family movie house backs 11 different tax districts through its property taxes, and these state entities have a combined shortage of public pension and health care of $ 16.1 billion. Only one of the units, New Trier High School, has enough to meet the needs of its 277 retirees and 701 active employees. Cook County is responsible for most of that pension debt, with $ 14.7 billion less than is ultimately needed by local taxpayers.
Taken together, growing pension deficits, high property taxes and falling real estate values mean that homeowners are being robbed piece by piece. Heads of state are forced to face these problems as the alarm goes off that property taxes are weighing on the state’s economy.
Governor JB Pritzker’s Task Force on Property Tax Ease has been unable to agree on possible solutions to the problem that costs Illinois homeowners twice the national average. Property taxes continue to rise across the state, but state lawmakers are missing on the issue that threatens to force more people to move to other states.
First, Illinois must dismantle its nationally leading 7,000 separate government units. Each Illinois citizen supports twice as many government units as the average US resident.
Second, Illinois needs to control its growing public pension debt, which is set at $ 200 billion for state and local pension funds and drives uncontrolled spending. This would require lawmakers to come together to support a constitutional change that protects earned retirement benefits while allowing changes in the growth of future unearned benefits.
Mistakes have been made, but perhaps it is the holiday season when ingenuity and quick action can lead to significant reform – before property taxes add more pain to the “home alone” house.