property-taxProperty-Tax Freeze Bill Passes Illinois House

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The Illinois House voted April 21 in favor of a plan to provide property-tax relief to some homeowners– only problem is applies to a fraction the state’s population.

House Bill 696 would freeze property taxes across the state. Under the plan, local governments could still increase rates, but only with approval from voters. The bill doesn’t apply to home-rule governments, however. That’s no small exemption: 7.8 million Illinoisans live in a home-rule municipality such Chicago, Naperville or Peoria. This number also doesn’t account for Cook County, which is also home-rule, and would be exempted from this property-tax freeze.

HB 696 needed a simple majority to pass, which it got – and then some – with 71 yes votes, 31 no votes and five representatives voting present. The bill now moves to the Senate for a vote.

Property-tax reform is one of the most important issues facing Illinoisans, and enacting a freeze would’ve done a lot of good for a lot of people.

Illinois’ property taxes are the third-highest in the U.S. When Chicago’s most recent property-tax hike is factored into the equation, the Tax Foundation believes Illinois will have the highest property taxes in the nation. Property taxes burden people and businesses more than any other tax: Illinois collected $27 billion in property taxes in 2013, compared to $23.5 billion in income taxes.

A person who buys a $200,000 house in Illinois would pay $4,640 in property taxes.

And property taxes have continued to rise, outpacing the state’s sluggish growth in household income for more than two decades.

A property-tax freeze won’t fix the problem on its own – even if Illinois froze its residential property taxes today, it would take 28 years for residents’ property-tax burden to return to 1990 levels.

But it’s a start – and it’s one that all Illinois homeowners deserve. It’s well past time Illinois politicians take action; otherwise, those who can afford to will continue fleeing the state.