Your Property Tax Dollars: Where They End Up

Your Property Tax Dollars: Where They End Up


It’s that time again, time to make the first installment payment on homeowners’ 2020 property tax bills, which accounts for 55% of 2019’s total tax bill. And you may be wondering, just where does the money go?

CBS TV last summer took a $10,000 lump sum property tax payment and broke it down so viewers would understand just where their dollars end up. Here’s the tally:

  • 54% supports Chicago public schools

  • 30% supports city government operations, public libraries, and mass transit projects; 

  • 7% goes to various Cook County government bodies; 

  •  9% is earmarked for miscellaneous taxes, which including funding for the Chicago Park District and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

Of a total of $10,000 in property tax revenue, $2,766 is set aside for pension obligations.  

The following Primer on Property Tax provides some basics about Illinois and Cook County tax rates and a quick step-by-step tally of a typical property tax bill. 


Primer on Property Tax

Illinois Property Taxes 2020

How Does Illinois Compare?

The median property tax in Illinois is $3,507.00 per year for a home worth the median value of $202,200. Counties in Illinois collect an average of 1.73% of a property's assessed fair market value as property tax per year. This is one of the highest property tax rates in the country; only six states levy higher property taxes.

Illinois's median income is $68,578 per year, so the median yearly property tax paid by Illinois residents amounts to approximately % of their yearly income. Illinois is ranked 5th for property taxes as a percentage of median income. 

Property Tax by County

The exact property tax levied depends on the county in which the property is located. Lake County collects the highest property tax in Illinois, levying an average of $6,285.00(2.19% of median home value) yearly in property taxes, while Hardin County has the lowest property tax in the state, collecting an average tax of $447.00(0.71% of median home value) per year.

Illinois Property Tax Rates

Property taxes are collected on a county level, and each county in Illinois has its own method of assessing and collecting taxes. As a result, it's not possible to provide a single property tax rate that applies uniformly to all properties in Illinois. 

The statistics provided here are state-wide. See below for Cook County.  

Illinois Property Taxes

Median Property Tax

Percentage Of Income

Percentage Of Property Value

$3,507 (7th of 50)

5.11% (5th of 50)

1.73% (6th of 50)

Cook County Property Taxes 2020

The median property tax in Cook County, Illinois is $3,681 per year for a home worth the median value of $265,800. Cook County collects, on average, 1.38% of a property's assessed fair market value as property tax. Cook County has one of the highest median property taxes in the United States, and is ranked 91st of the 3143 counties in order of median property taxes.

The average yearly property tax paid by Cook County residents amounts to about 5.09% of their yearly income. Cook County is ranked 69th of the 3143 counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income. 

Cook County Property Tax Rate 

Because Cook County uses a complicated formula to determine the property tax owed on any individual property, it's not possible to condense it to a simple tax rate, like you could with an income or sales tax. 

Instead, this property tax information is based on the statistical median of all taxable properties in Cook County. The median property tax amount is based on the median Cook County property value of $265,800. You can use these numbers as a reliable benchmark for comparing Cook County's property taxes with property taxes in other areas. 

The data allow you to compare Cook County's property taxes by median property tax in dollars, median property tax as a percentage of home value, and median property tax as a percentage of the Cook County median household income. 

Cook County Property Taxes

Median Property Tax 

As Percentage Of Income

As Percentage Of Property Value

$3,681 ± $14 (91st of 3143)

5.09 ± 0.03% (69th of 3143)

1.38 ± 0.01% (590th of 3143)

Note: This page provides general information about property taxes in Cook County. If you need specific tax information or property records about a property in Cook County, contact the Cook County Tax Assessor's Office

What is the Cook County Property Tax? 

Proceeds from the Cook County Personal Property Tax are used locally to fund school districts, public transport, infrastructure, and other municipal government projects. Property tax income is almost always used for local projects and services, and does not go to the federal or state budget. 

Unlike other taxes which are restricted to an individual, the Cook County Property Tax is levied directly on the property. Unpaid property tax can lead to a property tax lien, which remains attached to the property's title and is the responsibility of the current owner of the property. Tax liens are not affected by transferring or selling the property, or even filing for bankruptcy. Property tax delinquency can result in additional fees and interest, which are also attached to the property title. 

In cases of extreme property tax delinquency, the Cook County Tax Board may seize the delinquent property and offer it for sale at a public tax foreclosure auction, often at a price well under market value. Proceeds of the sale first go to pay the property's tax lien, and additional proceeds may be remitted to the original owner. 

Cook County Homestead Exemption 

For properties considered the primary residence of the taxpayer, a homestead exemption may exist. The Cook County Homestead Exemption can reduce the appraised valuation of a primary residence before calculating the property tax owed, resulting in a lower annual property tax rate for owner-occupied homes. 

Getting a Homestead Exemption may also help protect your home from being repossessed in the case of a property tax lien due to unpaid Cook County property taxes or other types of other debt. 

In most counties, you must specifically submit a homestead exemption application to your county tax assessor in order to enjoy the tax reduction and other benefits available. To get a copy of the Cook County Homestead Exemption Application, call the Cook County Assessor's Office and ask for details on the homestead exemption program. You can also ask about other exemptions that may exist for veterans, seniors, low-income families, or property used for certain purposes such as farmland or open space. 

Cook County Property Tax Deduction 

You can usually deduct 100% of your Cook County property taxes from your taxable income on your Federal Income Tax Return as an itemized deduction. Illinois may also let you deduct some or all of your Cook County property taxes on your Illinois income tax return

Cook County Property Tax Assessor 

The Cook County Tax Assessor is responsible for assessing the fair market value of properties within Cook County and determining the property tax rate that will apply. The Tax Assessor's office can also provide property tax history or property tax records for a property. These property tax records are excellent sources of information when buying a new property or appealing a recent appraisal. 

Most county assessors' offices are located in or near the county courthouse or the local county administration building. You can look up the Cook County Assessor's contact information here Cook County Tax Assessor Contact Information(opens in external website)

Cook County Property Tax Appeal 

Cook County calculates the property tax due based on the fair market value of the home or property in question, as determined by the Cook County Property Tax Assessor. Each property is individually t each year, and any improvements or additions made to your property may increase its appraised value. 

As a property owner, you have the right to appeal the property tax amount you are charged and request a reassessment if you believe that the value determined by the Cook County Tax Assessor's office is incorrect. To appeal the Cook County property tax, you must contact the Cook County Tax Assessor's Office.

Determining How Your Tax Bill Is Calculated 

Five Factors 

  1. Property Value 


X Assessment Level (per classification) 


  1. Assessed Value 


X State Equalization Factor


  1. Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) 


X Tax Rate 


  1. Total Taxes before Exemptions 


- Exemptions 


  1. Total Taxes Owed 


STEP 1 Determine Property Value 

PROPERTY VALUE (or Fair Cash Value): the amount for which a property can be sold between a willing buyer and a willing seller. Fair Cash Value is determined by a computer model that estimates property values based on similar building, land, and size characteristics. It also accounts for property sold in the area based on three to five years of historical sales data. 

Illinois state law requires that the Cook County Assessor determines the county’s property value or fair cash value. Foreclosure sales are not taken into account when calculating fair cash value

STEP 2 Determine Assessment Level 

Your property will fit into one of the following property classifications and is assessed at that level. 





Assessment Level 

Class 1 

Vacant or Farm Land 


Class 2 

Residential (single family 6 units or fewer) 


Class 3 

Apartments (7 units or more) 

16% in tax year 2009 

13% in tax year 2010 

10% in tax year 2011 

Class 4 



Class 5A 



Class 5B 



Class 6-9, S, L 

Incentive Classes 

Averages 10% with guidelines 

STEP 3 Multiply the State Equalization Factor 

Cook County charges a different assessment level for different classes of property. 

For example: 10% for residential, 25% for commercial. The rest of the state assesses all properties at 33.3% regardless of type. The State Equalization Factor is a calculation that equalizes your assessed value with the rest of Illinois as required by the state constitution. 

Equalization strives to limit tax burden inequalities among taxpayers who live within the boundaries of taxing districts (schools, water reclamation, etc) that overlap two or more counties. 

STEP 4 Factor in the Tax Rate 

The tax rate on your bill is the sum of all the tax rates you will pay to all taxing districts where you live. This include, for example, schools, parks, county, city/town. 

The tax rate is determined by your local taxing body, and it is calculated to collect a set amount of dollars per property parcel. Your tax rates are calculated by your local taxing agencies, the Cook County Clerk, and the Cook County Treasurer. 

STEP 5 Factor in Exemptions for deductions 

Exemptions provide tax relief by reducing the equalized assessed valuation of an eligible property owners. Exemptions appear on the 2nd installment tax bill each year. The most common exemptions are: *Homeowner * Senior Freeze * Long-time Occupant * Disabled Veteran * Home Improvement/Remodeling * Returning Veteran * Senior Homeowner * Disabled Person. 

You can apply for exemptions online at the Cook County Assessor’s Office (CCAO) website, CCAO offices, or at the local assessor’s office: 118 North Clark Street Contact: 312-443-7550 Room #320 Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Chicago, IL 60602 

Contact Information 

Bridget Gainer, Cook County Commissioner - 10th District 
Telephone: (312) 603-4210 
Info [at] 

Cook County Property Tax Portal 

Cook County Assessor’s Office 
(312) 443-7550 

Cook County Clerk’s Office 
(312) 603-5649 







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