Extra help for idlers, from Jim Houlihan

New data shows, once again in 2007, that Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan doesn’t think our tax laws give enough subsidy to land speculators, so he’s doing something extra to underassess vacant land.

By law and ordinance, he is supposed to put assessments at a specific proportion of what he estimates the actual value of real estate to be. These ratios have been adjusted over the years, and documentation is sparse, but for 2007 it appears that parcels containing single family or apartment buildings up to six units are to be assessed at 16% of value, and vacant land at 22%.

Annually, the Illinois Department of Revenue calculates the ratio between value assessed by Mr. Houlihan’s staff, and actual sales prices. The results for 2007(pdf)? Residential 8.34%, vacant 7.81%. (Not quite as bad as some previous years, however.)

The County is not ignoring this problem. Since the Assessor seems unable to assess vacant land at a higher percentage of value than land people use, they have changed the assessment policy so that, beginning wtih 2009, both residential and vacant land are to be assessed at 10% of value. We shall see how this proceeds.

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