Chicago City Council Approves $21 Million Property Tax Rebate Program

The program will provide homeowners with a household income of $75,000 or less with a rebate to offset property tax increases

Chicago’s City Council unanimously approved an estimated $21 million property tax rebate program on Wednesday that looks to give homeowners some relief in the wake of a record property tax increase.

The program will provide homeowners with a household adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less with a rebate to help offset their property tax increases.

Approximately 155,000 eligible households will receive an average rebate of $150. The plan also includes an additional supplement for senior citizens facing increased property taxes due to increased property values.

Prior to raising the city’s property taxes by $588 million to pay for police and fire pensions and school construction, Mayor Rahm Emanuel vowed to double the homeowner’s exemption in order to minimize additional taxes paid by average homeowners. Despite Emanuel's efforts to lobby state lawmakers, Springfield failed to pass an increased homeowner's exemption this year. As a result, attention shifted to the rebate program.

"The increase Chicago taxpayers are experiencing remains a necessary contribution to stabilize police and fire pensions, but with this rebate we are taking an important step to lighten the load for working- and middle-class families and to keep our neighborhoods strong," Emanuel said in a statement. "By working collaboratively we were able to develop and pass a rebate that offers hardworking homeowners some property tax relief."

Nevertheless, some aldermen continue to push for relief for renters, who were left out of the plan. 

"While the program does not include renters, I will continue to work with the mayor's office and my colleagues to develop a program that will benefit renters," Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said in a statement. 

Lawmakers are now tasked with getting the word out about the rebate. On Wednesday, Ald. Ed Burke noted that there was trouble with outreach after the city’s last property tax rebate passed in 1999. Burke authored the ordinance.

"It didn’t work very well because the message didn’t get out," Burke said during Wednesday's meeting, pushing for strong outreach and coordination between the city’s legislative and executive branches.

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