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A Closer Look at the Property Tax Burden on BOMA/Chicago Buildings

At BOMA/Chicago, we’re always advocating on our members’ behalf by regularly engaging in open, productive dialogue with key stakeholders surrounding public policy and fiscal decisions aimed at fostering a thriving Chicago.

While our elected officials at the local, state and federal levels initially come to mind when thinking about policy issues, it’s also important to not overlook another mainstream player – the media. Whether behind the scenes or out front making headline news – as best exemplified in the extensive media coverage Michael Cornicelli outlined in his blog post last year surrounding Mayor Emanuel’s property tax increases – we’re always working closely with reporters, editors and producers throughout Chicago to further educate them on our position surrounding issues impacting our members and the City.

Part of this effort involves sharing information. BOMA/Chicago regularly tracks and aggregates data to help shape our conversations with the media and build solid, mutually-beneficial relationships with key reporters covering our industry.

Last Thursday, Crain’s published an article by Greg Hinz titled “Are property taxes on office towers rising less than on homes?” It centered around property taxes and assessments, in which BOMA/Chicago openly shared pertinent data. Unfortunately, the article incorrectly extended conclusions from the data provided which painted an overwhelmingly inaccurate picture of Chicago’s commercial real estate industry.

It should come as no surprise that the story raised major red flags for all of us at BOMA/Chicago. Bottom line: Crain’s got this one wrong. BOMA/Chicago has already replied publicly with a letter to the editor, and we also wanted to communicate with our members directly to shed some light on where the article missed the mark.

  • Taxes: It was implied that BOMA/Chicago buildings pay less, when in fact our data shows that as a percentage of assessed value, our member buildings paid 18.3% in taxes, compared to 17.4% by all Chicago property.  And most importantly – our member buildings are paying over $842 million in taxes –$94 million more than last year.
  • Tax Burden: The reality is commercial buildings are already assessed at a rate that is 250 percent higher than residential buildings. That means that for every $100 of property value, single-family homes are assessed $10 and commercial buildings are assessed $25.

Understanding the true tax burden on BOMA/Chicago buildings is not only protecting the best interest of our members and the thousands of businesses they house – it’s also protecting the very economic engine that drives Chicago. Increasing property taxes threatens that engine and the economic fate of the city. BOMA/Chicago remains committed to working with  both elected officials and media to help steer the issue in a direction we can all get behind.