High Property Taxes Drive the Exodus from Illinois

A simple Facebook post about Illinois’ high property taxes draws impassioned responses from frustrated Illinois homeowners who have had enough.  My high school classmate and neighbor wrote:

"I wish my taxes were $4100 😒 - our entire extended family are considering leaving Illinois soon. Our parents cannot continue to pay a "mortgage" for their taxes for the rest of their lives on a fixed income. After living here for generations, we are taxed out."

In 2016, Kendall County, my home county, had the highest property tax rate as a percentage of home value in Illinois. Kane County, part of which I am honored to represent in Springfield, had the seventh-highest rate.

According to the New York Times in March of 2017, Illinois has the second highest property tax rate as a percentage of home value at 2.3% in the United States just behind the national leader, New Jersey, who comes in at 2.35%.

Consider that since Chicago residential properties pay artificially low property taxes, the tax rate as a percentage of home value throughout the rest of the state is likely much higher than that of New Jersey.

A local township resident commented on that Facebook post:

"My parents live in another state, have a bigger house and more property and have the same quality of services and excellent schools and they pay 1/5th of what we do in property taxes."

My wife and I have our residence and a rental property located in the two most populous townships in Kendall County.  The property tax bill on our residence in Bristol Township for 2016 (the most recent year) totals $6346.70.  Using Zillow’s estimated home value of $233,000, the property tax rate as a percentage of home value is 2.72% - significantly higher (15.7%) than the New Jersey rate of 2.35%. 

Comparatively, our rental home in Oswego Township has a 2016 property tax bill amounting to $4440.54.  Using Zillow’s estimated home value of $162,000, that property tax rate as a percentage of home value is 2.74%.  Unfortunately, an appraisal was done on that property within the last 60 days and the appraised value came back at $130,000 which yields a property tax rate as a percentage of home value of 3.42% - way, way, way higher (45.5%) than New Jersey’s median rate of 2.35%.

It’s really no wonder that people identify with this comment from the same Facebook post:

"My husband and I will also be leaving Illinois in the very near future if our property taxes are not frozen (at a minimum) or lowered. We live in a modest house built in the 1950's and should not be paying what people in other states pay in taxes for modern mansions."

Those Facebook commenters may be onto something significant.  Without prompting, they are pointing to a critical reason why Illinois’ population is shrinking while the national population is growing.  Excessive property taxes are sending families looking for more cost-effective alternatives.

With state finances is a tremendously difficult place, the first step is to just stop the bleeding. Don’t let the property tax burden rise further on Illinois families and support the efforts to enact a property freeze.

Finally, a comment from a former Kane County resident in sunny Florida hints to the end of the story for many more families if Illinois doesn’t address the exorbitant property tax issue:

"One of the reasons we left Illinois"


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