Family's Chicago property taxes increase 440%; small apartment complex in bankruptcy danger

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Friday, December 16, 2022
Family's Chicago property taxes increase 440%
A Lincoln Park family said their latest Chicago property tax bill increased 440% and now their modest apartment complex could go bankrupt.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago family said their latest property tax bill increased 440% and now their modest apartment complex could go bankrupt.

A one bedroom apartment will now cost Michael Markellos $17,494 in property taxes for one year.

"This has put us in a tremendous financial bind, the building has gone negative in the bills," he said.

He and his mother own the 10-unit Lincoln Park apartment complex. Last year's tax bill for all 10 units combined was $23,674, but now the same 10 units are $128,282 dollars this year; up 440%.

"I was outraged. These are basically simple one bedroom units for college graduates who work downtown," added Markellos.

The majority of the annual increases are from the latest installment of tax bills just sent out at the beginning of December. The payment is due before the end of the year, and in just a few months another installment of taxes will be due.

"Merry Christmas and Happy Valentine's Day," said Markellos sarcastically.

He said the only way to pay for recent tax hike would be to raise the rent on the one bedroom apartments, but the rent hike would scare renters away.

"They would have to pay $5,000-$6,000 to pay the bills. No one in their right mind will pay that," he said.

Markellos's attorney is appealing the increase with the Board of Review and the Cook County Assessor's office which assesses properties and determines how much to bill.

"Financially it's putting the building in bankruptcy," Markellos said.

The I-Team asked the Assessor's Office about the 440% increase. A spokesperson said it's due to the assessor's change in how these types properties are now classified by the county.

They said multi-unit rental buildings were "unfairly classified as commercial properties. As of 2021, they are now considered, residential properties."

They added that the previous classification gave unfair tax advantages.

The assessor's office said since Markellos and his family are the only owners of the building, they can apply to get the property reclassified as commercial to bring down next year's bills

"I would like the assessor to come out here and take a look at this unit and tell me it is $17,000 in taxes," Markellos said.

He's not the only person dealing with higher bills. The Cook County Treasurer's Office, which distributes and collects the bills, recently conducted a study showing that property taxes across the county rose $614 million this year, up 3.8%.

Latino neighborhoods in gentrifying areas are seeing the biggest increases; anywhere from 20% to 46%.