On September 24, 2010, the Illinois Department of Revenue released the 2009 State Equalizer, the Multiplier applicable to all Cook County real property. The 2009 State Equalizer amounts to 3.3701 (the 2009 Equalizer) and will be used to calculate the second installment 2009 tax bills for Cook County property. In Illinois, property taxes are the product of the assessed value, applicable tax rate, and equalizer.

The 2009 Equalizer is 13.144 percent higher than the 2008 equalizer of 2.9786. It is the highest equalizer applied to Cook County property in history. Cook County property owners should be aware of two immediate concerns regarding their 2009 (payable 2010) real estate taxes.

First, the 2009 Equalizer may materially impact the 2009 second installment tax bills, which are expected to be mailed in November and due in December, 2010. If the 2009 assessment on a property is the same as the 2008 assessment, 2009 property taxes will increase by at least 13.144 percent unless the applicable 2009 tax rate for the property is lower than in 2008 (2009 tax rates have yet to be released). If the 2009 assessment on a property was reduced, the 2009 Equalizer will erode a portion of the assessment reduction benefit.

Second, tax projections made for budgeting purposes for 2009 taxes payable in 2010, utilizing the 2008 Cook County equalizer, could reflect a 13.144 percent shortfall. The 2009 tax rates, which should be calculated and released soon, could increase or reduce such tax projection disparity.

It is important to contact your property tax professional and discuss the potential impact of the 2009 Equalizer on your budgeted taxes and tax projections for the 2009/2010 and subsequent tax years.