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COOK COUNTY, Ill. — As Cook County landowners prepare to receive their property tax bills, WGN Investigates has a look at who’s getting the hit the hardest.

As Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas prepared to send out more than 1.7 million tax bills, her team was also completing an ambitious review of what the owner of every parcel of land will have to pay. Among the key findings:

  • Total property tax bills for commercial owners increased 6.2 percent from the previous year, compared to a 1.3 percent hike for residential owners.
  • Majority Black and Latino communities are being impacted the hardest. Their communities make up 6 of the ten areas with the largest tax increases for homeowners.

“This is a system that’s not working,” Pappas said.

Her office released the 127-page analysis Tuesday. (View the pdf here) She gave WGN Investigates an exclusive interview in advance of the release.

The report found total property taxes billed in Cook County jumped 3.4 %to $16.1 billion in 2020, compared to the previous year. What’s more, total taxes have doubled in the last 20 years, from $8.2 billion in 2001.

“It has to change,” Pappas said. “It can’t go on like this.”

Take the village of Ford Heights, one of Cook County’s poorest communities. Total taxes jumped 18% for residents and 42 percent for business, among the highest of any suburb.

“This is a system where there’s something wrong with,” Pappas said. “And it needs to be corrected and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The 2020 tax bills are paid in 2021. The second installment bills were posted online Aug. 12 and will be mailed to taxpayers this month.