Property Taxes

Look at How These Residents Are Protesting Their Skyrocketing Property Taxes

Property taxes in McHenry County, Illinois have skyrocketed over the past several years, leading some residents to protest by paying thousands of dollars taxes using single bills.

One such resident Jeff McGrath owed about $16,000 in business and residential property taxes. He paid all he was allowed to pay in single bills. In one clear plastic bag, he had $9,995.66 in ones – and some coins – along with a personal check for $1,456 to make up the difference. He would have withdrawn the full amount, but he didn’t want to alert the IRS, so he stayed under their $10,000 threshold. (Of course, even if you do remain below that threshold, the IRS can still accuse you of “structuring” and seize your money.)

In another clear plastic bag, he had $5,757.44 in single bills to pay his residential tax.

McHenry County
Location of McHenry County in red.

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Another McHenry County resident paid the same way. Sixty-seven-year-old Dan Aylward paid his $5,734.18 bill with one dollar bills, and he included two dimes, intentionally overpaying by a couple of pennies. “I gave them the two cents for my opinion,” he said with a laugh, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune noted how property taxes have risen over the years in McHenry County:

McGrath said his residential tax bill has grown from $2,500 when he first built his ranch home in 1999. This year alone, he said, his tax bill jumped 26 percent, from $9,100 to more than $11,600, and he has heard no good explanation why.

Taxes on his business when he built it in 2003 were about $7,000, and that cost has risen to $23,000, he said.

“It’s out of control,” he said. “I can’t stay here and continue to do business. I don’t see an end in sight here.”

McGrath said he budgets 5 percent a year for tax increases for each property. However, this year alone the house jumped 26 percent “and nobody can say why or tell me who is at fault,” he said.

The result of having rising property taxes like this is that taxpayers such as these two men want to move elsewhere. McGrath already has property in Wisconsin where the property taxes are not nearly as high. As for Aylward, he’s not moving anytime soon, if he can help it. He does fear that he will be forced to sell his property because of the high taxes. At the same time, however, the difficulty will be selling their property at all. No one really wants to buy property if they have to pay exorbitantly high property taxes. The Tribune continued:

…Aylward said he will continue to pay his taxes in cash until his message is received and he finds some relief.

“The American Dream is to own a home,” Aylward said. “(My home) is more than the American Dream. To me it’s part of my family. When I leave this driveway (because) I’m forced to sell it because I can’t afford to pay the taxes anymore, I will cry. … I will fight with every breath that I take.”

McHenry County Treasurer Glenda Miller says that she understands these men’s frustrations since she too is a taxpayer. But she didn’t understand how their protest was going to help. “I understand your grief, but I don’t know what you are going to prove by putting more burden on my staff in processing your payment,” she said.

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