Transaction tax

Taxes for WGN reporters in Hinsdale are exceptionally low

HINSDALE, IL — WGN investigative reporter Ben Bradley is selling his home in Hinsdale for $1.9 million.

The tax bill for the property is exceptionally low – $5,000 in 2020.

Property in the 200 block of North County Line Road is owned by a land trust, which is often how famous people handle such transactions. Databases indicate that Bradley lives in the house.

In 2010, records show the land trust purchased the three-story home from a builder for $1.4 million. The Cook County assessor now values ​​the property at $231,000.

Prior to the transaction, the builder demolished the property’s former one-story house. Built in 1915, it was about one-seventh the size of its replacement.

It appears that the Cook County Assessor’s Office never considered that a much more expensive house had been built in place of the old house.

If the house is really worth $1.9 million, the property taxes would be $40,000 a year. At $1.5 million, the taxes would be around $32,000.

This does not mean that government agencies have lost money. It just means that other taxpayers are picking up the slack.

“The loser in this situation is the neighbor,” Lyons Township assessor Patrick Hynes said in an interview.

Just look at the houses on either side of the property. A house is worth $950,000, with a property tax bill of $19,000. The other is valued at $396,000, along with a tax bill of $8,200.

Hynes, who was elected as an assessor last year, said it was not unusual for the county assessor to miss a major change in a property. In recent years, the county office, where Hynes worked for 24 years, has become severely understaffed, he said.

Regarding the property on County Line Road, Hynes said, “It is entirely possible that this house has not been physically inspected by a human being from the county assessor’s office since 1915.”

County records show there was no appeal of the county’s assessment of the property.

“The taxpayer did not appeal because he is not a model,” Hynes said.

In Cook County, township assessors serve as ratepayer advocates. They do not appraise properties.

The county assessor’s website appears to rely on information about the former home. It says the home is 880 square feet, much less than the 6,113 square feet listed in the ad. The appraiser also says the house does not have central air conditioning, which the ad states.

The appraiser indicates that the house has a bathroom; the ad says he has 5½. The old house had no chimneys; the new one has two.

Bradley declined to comment. Messages to the Cook County Assessor’s office were not returned.