Today, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Daniel Biss unveiled his HOME plan for property tax fairness and relief, an approach to address Illinois’ system of property tax valuation, assessment, and appeals.

“Our property tax system is completely broken, but perfectly reflects the fundamental problem with Illinois right now – the middle class pays more than they should, and we still can’t meet our obligations or fund our priorities because the very rich game the system to pay less than their fair share,” said State Senator Biss. 

Senator Biss says his HOME plan would make “property tax valuation in Illinois fairer, end the property tax appeals racket that lines the pockets of attorneys and politicians at the expense of ordinary homeowners, and ultimately provide property tax relief for working and middle-class families. 

“For too long the millionaires and machine politicians have been able to manipulate the corrupt property tax system to benefit themselves, leaving ordinary homeowners to pay more. It’s time for a property tax system that’s fair to the rest of us,” Sen. Biss added as he laid out his plan before the Melrose Park home of Barbara Garner. Mrs. Garner was recently featured in the Tribune‘s report exposing how the valuation system set up by the Cook County Assessor’s office “harmed the poor and helped the rich.

“You’ll hear a lot in this campaign decrying our broken property tax system. What you won’t hear are admissions from millionaires and billionaires that they used their wealth and connections to secure six-figure pay days from a system they now decry as candidates. What you also won’t hear are solutions. We need to be honest about our problems. But, the people of Illinois know what’s wrong with Illinois. What they also deserve are honest solutions.”  

Sen. Biss also announced that he will introduce the Honesty, Openness, Modernization, and Ethics (HOME) in Assessments Act in the State Senate along with Sen. Jacqueline Collins later this week. 

Sen. Biss says the HOME Property Tax Fairness and Relief Plan includes:

“Honesty and Openness: End the secret and confusing valuation process by requiring county assessors to make it clear to homeowners how they determine tax bills and prevent assessors from keeping their actions secret.

•    Require assessors to publicly disclose the models they use to estimate and validate the value of homes and businesses.

•    Require State oversight and reporting on local officials, conduct audits, provide data, and remove authority from officials who repeatedly fail to do their jobs. 

“Modernization:    Require assessors to modernize their valuation systems, which unfairly make low and middle-income homeowners pay more and rich ones pay less, and fairly value our homes. And, require detailed statistical analysis by the Department of Revenue to reveal whether properties are being assessed properly, uniformly, and equitably. With modern and fair valuation methods, wealthier residents will pay their fair share, and our over-reliance on property tax appeals to provide relief for low and middle-income homeowners will be reduced. 

“Ethics: End the racket that lines the pockets of machine politicians and property tax lawyers at the expense of ordinary homeowners.  Subject property tax lawyers to pay-for-play rules that curb conflicts of interest. Limit contributions from property tax lawyers to assessors, candidates for assessor, and others involved in processing appeals to $750 a year. Any contributions above that cap would result in prohibiting the violating property tax attorney from practicing law.”