I am taxed a Benjamin Per Week for living in my home.
Of course, I pay way more than that in taxes, when you factor in income taxes at over $10,000 per year, thousands per year paid in sales taxes and taxes imposed on utilities, cell phones, motor fuel and the like.
The $100, or Benjamin, per week that I am taxed is on my older, post-war middle class split level ranch in the older section of an extremely middle class northwest suburban community somewhere around thirty or so miles outside of Chi-Raq.
The second installment of our property taxes were due to the Treasurer of Crook County (often referred to as Cook County by some) on the first of August. I paid ours about a week earlier, after receiving my second paycheck of July on the 21st.
After paying it and seeing that we paid just a wee bit over $5,200 in property taxes this year, it dawned on me that we pay almost exactly $100 per week for the privilege of living in our little house in our modest lower middle class neighborhood.
I went to the very helpful Cook County Property Tax Portal, which provides a wealth of information even if you do not have your PIN number handy. I happen to have ours memorized, having checked on it several times per year for the sixteen years that we have “owned” our house.
Below is the last five years of our property tax history per the website:
TAX BILLED AMOUNTS & TAX HISTORY
Paid in Full
When you add up the past four years, we have paid $20,799.78, which incredibly comes out to $99.9989 per week, or twenty-two cents under an exact hundred per week for the past four years. Adding our 2012 payment of nearly $5,800, our five year total amounts to $26,583.38, which over the course of two hundred and sixty weeks amounts to $102.24 per week.
It is worth mentioning that our property taxes were set to be about $400 higher, or about $5,600 this year based on a valuation of $230,000 by the County Assessor. However, my wife did a little research and successfully appealed our assessed value, lowering it to about $200,000 even though we would not sell our home for a penny under $240,000. Homes in our neighborhood are currently selling for more than that, perhaps up to $270,000, but those homes have new floors and fixtures better than what we have.
The “Zestimate” for our home on Zillow is $235,000 although for some reason it lists our home as having two bedrooms rather than the three that we have. Oh well, I would not sell it for a priced based on a Zestimate, anyway.
& TAX HISTORY
Paid in Full
Of course, they have a beautiful house in a fantastic neighborhood. My uncle’s income over the years as a financial executive for a software firm allows him to easily pay these taxes while also traveling extensively, grocery shopping at Whole Foods and even higher end, smaller grocers, taking his daughters (my cousins) on multi-week European vacations, purchasing condominiums in Florida and Michigan and generally purchasing whatever they want to without blinking an eye.
Even though our family is very close with theirs, they have long surpassed being even upper middle class and have attained upper class status. I happen to have been told what my uncle’s income is, approximately, and according to this September 2016 article on Investopedia, it actually exceeds the $465,000 that it took to be a one percenter in 2014 by statistical data provided by the IRS.
He fell short by more than half of the $1.26 million income that the Washington Center for Equitable Growth estimated it took to be a one percenter that same year, and that number seems more reasonable to me. Even though $465,000 is a Hell of a high income to a Middle Class Guy like me, I know enough people who are close to that to know that, although wealthy, they are not one percenters.
By the way, if you called my aunt and uncle one percenters or even members of the upper class, my former hippie aunt and uncle would hate you very much and never forgive you. They are very liberal, very laissez faire, but my uncle also worked like a dog for many years to attain the wealth and success that he has.
My brother is a self-employed attorney and even employs several paralegals to keep the paperwork at his practice moving. He purchased a nice house within DuPage County about eight years ago, but has since moved out of state and rents the house out.
Take a look at the high property taxes that he pays on his rental house, nearly ten thousand dollars or almost two Benjamins per week.
|Installment||Base Tax Amount||Penalty *||Total||Paid Date|
|First Due: 6/1/2017||$4,938.80||$0.00||$4,938.80||5/26/2017|
|Second Due: 9/1/2017||$4,938.80||$0.00||$4,938.80|
|Total Base Tax (without penalties)||$9,877.60|
My best friend was deeded his family house about eight or so years ago due to a confluence of reasons that I will not detail.
His home is valued at $462,000 by the Cook County Assessor, however comparable houses in his neighborhood sell for fifty percent or more higher than that. Some go for over a million, but those are bigger and nicer than his.
The “Zestimate” on my best friend’s house more closely reflects the potential selling price should he and his wife want to sell the home.
& TAX HISTORY
Paid in Full
Moving on to a co-worker who I have worked with for over twelve years. She and her husband both have had six-figure municipal jobs for quite a few years, and purchased a new construction home in a Kane County, Illinois city about fifteen years ago.
On the days when I pay my property tax bill at the local Chase Bank, I always complain to her and anyone else who will listen to me about writing that huge check to the Crook County Treasurer. My co-worker has very little sympathy, however, reminding me that like my best friend, she too pays about a thousand per month for the privilege of living in their spacious home near the Fox River.
By the way, the Net Taxable Value is actually more like one-third of the property value. Kane County, like nearly every other in Illinois with the exception of Crook County, considers taxable value to be one-third of the estimated home value.
Also, you can view the tax history going back for ten years on the Kane County Treasurer’s website, which is pretty cool.
|Year||Base Tax Due||Net Taxable Value|
As you can see, compared to my aunt and uncle’s home, my brother’s rental house and my best friend’s house, and my colleague’s home, my property taxes of one Benjamin per week do not seem so bad.
The Worst States for Property Taxes
The Tax Foundation found that homeowners in these states paid the most in property taxes:
- New Jersey – 2.38 percent
- Illinois – 2.32 percent
- New Hampshire – 2.15 percent
- Connecticut – 1.98 percent
- Wisconsin – 1.96 percent
- Texas – 1.90 percent
- Nebraska – 1.84 percent
- Michigan – 1.78 percent
- Vermont – 1.71 percent
- Rhode Island – 1.67 percent
This chart is pretty spot on in our case. If you value our home at about $225,000 and then multiply it by the above 2.32 percent, you get a property tax of nearly exactly $5,200. I suppose that if we lived in Jersey, it would be $5,300.
Whether you consider paying $5,200 per year in property taxes to be a lot or a little depends on many things, some of which include where you live, how high or low of an income you have, whether you value strong public schools or not, whether you live in a urban, suburban or rural area, and more.
When I think about it, that amount it is about just right for us. Of course, I would rather pay less, but I understand that we live in a highly taxed area with strong schools. Heck, most of the public school teachers and administrators in our children’s school district make six figure salaries.
Plus, Illinois has the most units of local government in any State of the fifty, so if you grow up around here, high taxes are just a part of life, like a lot of political corruption and high crime in Chi-Raq. They are nearly immutable Laws of Nature.
When your property tax bill includes districts like the mosquito abatement district, Township, library, park district, forest preserves, public health department, community college district and more, it is no wonder that the bill comes out so high.
While perusing some of the Ninja, Samurai and Zen blogs last week, I came across a post by Mike on Ninja Budgeter that describes how he found an extra $718 by discovering some extra funds in his mortgage escrow account in which he had been paying his property taxes.
Not being a fan of escrow accounts, myself, my wife and I waived escrow when we purchased our home ten days before 9/11. so I stroke checks to the County Treasurer twice per year when property taxes come due.
Mike the Ninja Budgeter writes that three years ago when they first bought their home, their mortgage provider offered them an option regarding their property taxes. Normally they would pay the property tax ourselves with saved money, like we do, and he thinks theirs amounts to around $1,500 per year in Canadian money, which equates to about a mere $1,200 per year in U.S. currency.
1 CAD = 0.7883 USD
I have not commented on his or anyone else’s blog post, but if I did, I would tell Mike the Ninja Budgeter to count his blessings.
After all, he only has to pay a Benjamin per month for property taxes, not a Benjamin per week like I do, two Benjamins per week like my brother, best friend and co-worker do, or three Benjamins per week like my aunt and uncle do.