In 2017, the Chicago Tribune published a series of stories on the Cook County Tax Assessor’s Office, finding that for years the county’s property tax system had given huge financial breaks to homeowners in wealthier and largely white communities while placing an unfair burden on poorer people living in minority communities… In February, the Center for Municipal Finance at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy released a review of property assessments in Detroit between 2016-2018, finding that the property tax burden fell disproportionately on the city’s lowest-income homeowners.
“‘Detroit is not the only place to have this problem but it is among the worst that I have seen,’ said Christopher Berry, University of Chicago.”
“’There are usually standards involved,’ and entire sections of assessment textbooks lay them out, said Berry, a University of Chicago professor who helped design a new model for Berrios’ office that was never fully implemented.
When doing the hand-check process, analysts sometimes relied on data from internet sites like Zillow or Trulia ‘for insight into home characteristics’ — such as square footage and number of rooms — that can affect values. Berry said that’s problematic. ‘If they are doing that for one set of homes and not others, that’s going to introduce nonuniformity into the process,’ he said.”
“While the lawsuit does mention the Tribune’s findings, it also cited Illinois Department of Revenue statistics and conclusions drawn by the University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Chicago to support its allegations.”