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Brace Yourself; Cook County Tax Bills May Arrive on Time

If property tax bills are mailed by July 1, they will be due Aug. 1.

For the first time in four decades, Cook County property owners may actually get the second installment of their tax bills on time.

That means the bills likely be in the mail July 1 and due Aug. 1—the statutory deadline—not some unpredictable date in the fall, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The regular delay has been blamed over the years on everything from inefficient bureaucracies to politics, according to the news report. In 2010, critics charged that powerful Democrats were behind the plan to delay sending out Cook County tax bills until after the Nov. 2 election fearing voter backlash.

But Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle made “getting the tax bills out on time” a refrain on the campaign trail and during discussions of government efficiency, with county elected leaders involved in putting the bills together nodding in agreement. The county taxes 1.7 million parcels of property.

Delays in getting out the tax bills means delays in getting money to taxing districts, such as schools and libraries — where officials must borrow until they get their piece of the property tax pie. Officials say schools and libraries shouldn’t have to borrow money as a result of delays because it burdens taxpayers with covering the interest on the loans.

The complicated task of figuring tax bills begins with assessing the value of a home, done every three years. The state issues an “equalizer” to make up for the fact that Cook County assess homes at 10 percent of their value and commercial at 25 percent of their value — different than in other counties. Then the county clerk sets the tax rate to meet the taxing districts’ financial needs.

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