Cook County property tax bills will be late next year

Cook County officials are sending an early warning that next year’s second installment property tax bills will be seriously delayed – with a potential due date later than taxpayers have seen in a decade.

The delay could cause headaches for school districts and other taxing agencies that rely on paying property taxes by the Aug. 1 deadline to meet their financial obligations.

When payments are late, tax agencies often have to resort to short-term borrowing to pay bills until the county distributes its share of taxes. The interest on these loans can become an additional burden for taxpayers.

Officials say they are looking at a possible payment deadline for the second installment of 2022 in December – possibly even spreading into 2023.

When the tax bills are so late, the second installment may clash with the first installment bill for the following year, which usually comes out in January.

While some taxpayers might be just as happy to hold on to their money a little longer, others may struggle to make both payments in a shorter time frame. The amount of taxes due is not affected.

Cook County has not faced this scenario since 2010, when tax bills had to be paid by November 1. Previously, due dates for tax invoices routinely missed the August 1 legal deadline, the latest being in December 2009. 13.

Since then, releasing tax bills on time has become a priority for Cook County Council Chairman Toni Preckwinkle and former assessor Joseph Berrios. With the exception of a two-month delay last year blamed on the COVID pandemic, the county has met the August 1 deadline every year since 2011.

Next year’s delay is attributed to problems with Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s first-term transition to the county’s new “integrated” property tax system.

The centralized database attempts to consolidate the record keeping and processes of the Assessor, Cook County Board of Review, County Clerk and Treasurer. It will replace a computer system that everyone agrees is hopelessly outdated.

The appraiser’s office went live with the new technology this year, which happens to be the year the appraiser conducts its triennial reassessment of real estate values ​​in the city of Chicago, its most difficult task.

The result was difficult, with the assessor months behind schedule to complete its work and forward the final assessments to the review board so it could start accepting appeals filed by ratepayers.

Scott Smith, a spokesman for Kaegi, acknowledged the delays but said they were anticipated due to changes in technology.

“These are inevitable delays,” Smith said. “The department was very aware of that.”

He said he did not believe projections of a possible payment due date in 2023 were accurate, with the end of 2022 being more likely.

I didn’t mean to lay blame, but Larry Rogers Jr., the Board of Review’s most senior commissioner, is happy to do so.

“It’s squarely in Fritz Kaegi’s lap,” said Rogers, who believes the evaluator shouldn’t have committed to the new data system until it’s been proven. “This is purely an implementation failure. He is the reason why tax bills will be sent late. He failed to do his job in due time. He must own it.

County commissioners appeared taken aback at a committee hearing last month when they heard tax bills could come out so late.

Commissioner Peter Silvestri said it’s a ‘disaster’ for tax bodies when invoices are late.

“It’s one of our top priorities,” Silvestri said. “The goal must be to get those tax bills out on time.”

This may no longer be possible.

At that same committee hearing, the Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Review Board, William O’Shields, warned that it usually takes his office 10 to 11 months to complete its work and could take 12 months this time. , with a record 290,000 calls expected from taxpayers.

At that time, the assessor had not submitted its final assessment data for any of the county’s 38 townships, a necessary prerequisite for the council to begin its work. Since then, the assessor has made his calculations for seven suburban townships, including three this week alone.

Board of Review Commissioner Tammy Wendt suggested the county consider whether it would be more cost-effective to hire a consultant or additional staff to help the board expedite its work. By law, every taxpayer who appeals has the right to a hearing, notes his chief of staff Todd Thielmann. There is no shortcut.

Smith said the assessor has offered to lend staff to the review board to help with its work. He also said delays would be a one-time issue.

It will escalate when all those local officials find out that they won’t get their tax money on time.

Penny D. Jackson