Transfer tax campaign scores $200K donation 

Meanwhile, NAR gave $100K to an opposition campaign 

Chicago Transfer Tax Advocates Score $200K Donation
Mayor Brandon Johnson (Getty)

Donations are starting to pour into a referendum campaign supporting Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s plan to raise transfer taxes on all property sales of $1 million or more.

The Service Employees International Union Healthcare of Illinois/Indiana contributed $200,000 to the initiative, Bring Chicago Home, Crain’s reported. It is the first significant donation to the campaign in favor of changes to Chicago’s real estate transfer tax.

The transfer tax changes received final approval from the city council in November and is headed to Chicago voters on the March ballot. 

Chicago’s transfer tax — a one-time fee charged when purchasing a property — is a flat 0.75 percent on all sales, regardless of price. 

Under Johnson’s proposal, the rate would jump to 2 percent for sales between $1 million and $1.5 million, while rising to 3 percent for transactions greater than $1.5 million. Meanwhile the rate would drop to 0.6 percent for property trades less than $1 million, affecting the majority of home purchases. 

The changes are intended to spur more affordable housing and anti-homelessness measures in Chicago

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The End Homelessness campaign committee, established to support the referendum, has gained momentum with the union’s substantial contribution. 

The National Association of Realtors donated $100,000 to an opposing committee, Realtors in Opposition to Real Estate Transfer Tax, which also reported $14,000 from Illinois Realtors.

If the initiative is approved in the March 19 election, City Council will need to codify the new tax rates and outline spending details for the projected revenue.

Bring Chicago Home has been at the forefront of Johnson’s tenure as mayor.  The policy’s advocates believe it will raise funds to address homelessness, while its opponents — including much of the real estate community — are concerned about its potential adverse effects, especially since the market is already grappling with high interest rates, historically low demand for office space and a tough lending environment.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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