New Cook County assessor wants commercial property owners to submit income data

On his first day in office, Fritz Kaegi proposed a number of reforms

Dec.December 04, 2018 09:00 AM

Fritz Kaegi (Credit: iStock)

The new Cook County assessor wants commercial property owners to submit income data each year for his office to review when considering property tax assessments.

Fritz Kaegi, who unseated longtime assessor Joe Berrios in the March primary and won the general election last month, also said he would not accept campaign contributions from any appraiser or law firm that does business with the office, according to Crain’s.

Kaegi’s proposed reforms came after a swearing-in Monday that also included a promise to bring in the International Association of Assessing Officials to audit the office.

The proposal to require income information from commercial property owners would require action by the state Legislature. Kaegi’s office said his plan would require the filing of portions of the owners’ income tax returns, including Schedule E, which reports on supplemental income or loss from business activity.

More immediately, Kaegi issued an executive order banning all gifts to staffers from those seeking favorable action from the office, requiring all staffers to disclose properties in which they have an economic interest and banning the use of family connections and political considerations in hiring. Berrios was frequently criticized during his tenure for hiring his family members.

Berrios’ loss to Kaegi in the primary left commercial property owners wondering whether a property tax reckoning is on the horizon, after several reports leading up to the election showed Berrios’ office routinely valued large properties at far less than what they had sold.

A number of neighborhoods and suburbs are already seeing large increases in their property assessments after Berrios’ office revamped the system in light of the criticism. [Crain’s] — John O’Brien

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