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Our view: Small relief for taxpayers

Published: Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 1:26 p.m. CDT

It seems that just about everything in Illinois works against taxpayers.

Income taxes were raised just a few years ago. Property taxes are way too high and continue to increase even though property values have decreased significantly since 2009. State government spends our tax dollars as if it were Monopoly money.

Taxpayers need a break.

While we don’t expect to see any big breaks given the current leadership in Springfield, small ones are at least a start.

That’s why we support a bill filed by state Rep. Jack Franks that would require property assessors to justify any assessment increase greater than 5 percent.

The legislation, filed earlier this month, puts the burden of proof on the assessor to prove why an increased property value is warranted.

The number of homeowners who challenged their property assessments has skyrocketed in recent years. Under the current appeals process, it is up to the homeowner to provide evidence that the assessment should be lowered. Homeowners are required to track down recent sales data of comparable homes showing that their house has been overassessed. The comparable properties have to be of similar size, story height, quality of construction and style.

“I introduced this legislation to give taxpayers a stronger voice in the assessment process because it is very clear that without their increased involvement, taxing bodies will just continue to take more,” Franks told Northwest Herald reporter Joseph Bustos.

We realize that Franks’ bill won’t result in lower taxes for the vast majority of taxpayers. That only will come when local government bodies stop asking for more and start spending more wisely.

We supported a Franks’ bill last year that would have prohibited local governments from seeking higher levies in years when property values declined. That bill stalled in a House committee, as it seems most taxpayer-friendly bills do.

While this proposed legislation won’t lower taxes, it’s a step in the right direction.

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