Subscriber Special - DuPage County's 'Legalized' Property Tax Scheme Capitol_Building21

February 20, 2016 10:19 AM
In DuPage County, property taxpayers are soaked for tens of millions of dollars in extra 'loss' tax.  But, 99.8% of the taxes were paid last year.
Forbes | February 19, 2016 
Some government 'schemes' are perfectly legal - and that's the scandal. Other schemes we identify are not legal, and we help stop them. If this one is legal, it shouldn't be.

Today, at Forbes, I write about my local county clerk who is unilaterally levying an extra 1% 'loss tax' on real estate to cover delinquent taxpayers - potentially $65 million over ten years in extra taxes. 

But, county records show very few losses - only .2% of property taxes weren't paid last year.

Read my Forbes editorial County Clerk Unilaterally Levies Millions of Dollars in Property Taxes.

To the credit of DuPage County Clerk Paul Hinds and his office, they were very helpful over the past two months. Hinds even ran special reports modeling a 'zeroing-out of the loss' tax.

But, the helpful attitude doesn't excuse the over-taxation: $6.543 million last year alone. 

Here are some examples we discovered:
  • Last year, College of DuPage Trustees 'froze' property taxes, but tax bills actually rose by nearly $1 million ($910,767) - because of the clerk's extra 'loss' tax.
  • In my own Hinsdale High School District 86, in 2013, the board thought they 'froze' property taxes, but the bills actually rose by $746,773.
  • Because of this 1% 'loss tax,' local governments are actually collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars more than they are mandating!
  • Just last year, the clerk's 'loss tax' amounted to $6.543 million in extra property taxes, and over ten years the potential amount is $65 million or more.
In 2014, Hinsdale High School Trustees Ed Corcoran and Claudia Manley tried to stop the county clerk from levying his 1% tax for their district. The Hinsdale board actually passed a resolution to stop the tax, but the clerk continued to levy the 'loss' tax anyway!

Read my Forbes editorial County Clerk Unilaterally Levies Millions of Dollars in Property Taxes.
The county clerk levies this tax without citizen input, truth-in-taxation hearings, or any sort of public vetting. Most people - citizens, journalists, politicians, watchdogs - don't even know the tax exists.
What are the other problems in rock-ribbed 'republican' DuPage County?  
  • $3.4 billion in long-term debt has been racked up by 381 units of local government within DuPage County. It's a staggering average of $13,200 per family of four.
  • 2.1 million in salary flows to the top ten highly compensated DuPage County employees.
  • Nearly 10,000 DuPage County families faced the county sheriff's real estate sale after being late on their high property tax bills. 
If you read my column at Forbes this morning, then you'll find out even more, click here.
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