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.
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.