There are a number of little known sources of data that can assist school districts in their financial planning and public relations efforts. This information is available from local officials and State agencies as well as private organizations that research these issues. When used effectively, this information can also help create a broader consensus about property taxes within a school district, on a board education, and throughout a community. This FR Alert is intended to help school districts gain access to this helpful information.
Illinois Department of Revenue
The Illinois Department of Revenue is one, if not the only, institution that collects comprehensive, statewide property tax data. Compiling this information is time consuming, so there is a delay in posting the data to the Department’s website. For example, the most recent data is from 2010. The data is extensive, however. The data sets range from property tax extensions by type of taxing district, to taxes extended by type of property, to average tax rates over time. This information can be used to compare and contrast an individual school district’s property tax experience with a wider universe of taxing agencies. For example, a particular school district’s extension might have grown at a much lower rate than the statewide average. The Department’s data sets are available here.
County Assessing Officials
County assessing officials keep track of aggregate as well as individual assessments. In Cook County, aggregate assessed value by class of property within townships is maintained in the annual abstract of assessments. The aggregate assessed value by class of property within individual taxing agencies, including school districts, is maintained in the “31A Report” for a particular taxing agency. This information is also available outside of Cook County because county assessing officials are required to file “PTAX-260-A” and “PTAX-282” reports with the Illinois Department of Revenue. These reports break down the assessments by class of property within townships and list all the properties with assessed values of $1,000,000 or more within each township. The DuPage County report is available at the Supervisor of Assessments website here.
Cook County Clerk
The Cook County Clerk’s Office provides exceptional information concerning TIF Districts. The information ranges from maps of all the TIF Districts in the County to the latest information on how much money each TIF District was expected to collect during the last tax year. This information is available here.
Nonprofit Research Organizations
There are many different organizations conducting research on property taxes as well. The Civic Federation, for example, prepares an annual report on the effective tax rates in communities throughout northeastern Illinois. Effective tax rates are a measurement of tax burden that are relatively easy to use. Multiplying the effective tax rate by the full market value of a property provides people with a relatively accurate estimate of their tax bill. The Civic Federation’s report is available here. The Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois produces a similar report covering the entire State of Illinois. And, the Minnesota Taxpayers Association, in conjunction with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, does a nationwide survey of effective tax rates that is available here.
School districts can utilize these resources to plan their finances, to put their largest single source of revenue in perspective, and to develop consensus among stakeholders.