I had this idea about making property taxes less regressive.


After Rahm Emanuel was elected the second time and presented his budget, I went to a neighborhood forum sponsored by my City Council member, Carlos Rosa.

I had read that other cities had instituted a transfer tax on home sales over a million dollars, and given the burden that working people in Chicago were paying on their homes and rentals, I thought this would be a good idea for Chicago.

When I discovered that the community forum wasn’t taking any questions or comments from the floor but we would be broken up into small groups instead, I expressed my disappointment to City Council member Rosa. So he allowed for some comments and I brought up the idea of a transfer tax on million dollar homes.

Never underestimate the power of an idea whose time has come.

That time may have come with the election of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who also happens to live in City Council member Rosa’s ward.

The Sun Times is reporting that she wants the Illinois legislature to allow Chicago to tax high-end services and the right to institute a transfer tax on the sale of million dollar + homes.

A few weeks ago I wrote here about how the huge property tax increases in gentrifying neighborhood like Logan Square in Chicago were killing long-time homeowners and renters, mainly immigrant and working class. I suggested a freeze or limit on property taxes for families who have lived in their homes for 10 or 15 years.

After all, nothing may have changed much about their home or their income other than that their neighborhood has gotten to be a hot real estate market. Why should that be a punishment? Their home is what is called an unrealized asset. That’s accountant talk for you can’t buy groceries with it.

According to the Sun-Times report, the mayor has run with half of my idea. There’s no talk about a freeze, but she has raised the idea of a transfer tax on million dollar + homes.

What is the legislative response?

“What this is viewed as would be the city coming down to ask for the right to solve its own problems,” Harris said.

That would be Greg Harris, the Democratic House Majority Leader from. . . Chicago.

And he didn’t mean that in a good way.

Think about that for a moment.

One of the most powerful politicians in the state, a House member from Chicago, in a state with huge Democratic majorities in the General Assembly and a Democrat as governor, thinks it would be a tough sell in their legislature to give the city the right to solve its own problems.

Who needs Republicans with Democrats like this?


6 thoughts on “I had this idea about making property taxes less regressive.

      1. Sounds like an idea worth researching further. Madigan will have something to say no matter what, but he may not have the legal right to object. That is something worth investigating.

      2. Apparently there are two ways to go with this. Either home rule referendum or legislative action.

      3. As I understand about what is being considered. The homeless advocates have a referendum ready to go that is a targeted revenue stream for that issue. If a bill in Springfield get through it would give the Mayor more flexibility as to where the money would go.

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