Illinois wants tax money back from local governments

 
 
Updated 4/20/2016 5:46 PM

Local government officials across Illinois forgot to call no takebacks.

Officials who for years have complained state payouts are delayed or too small now owe Illinois millions of dollars because of a tax miscalculation, the Department of Revenue announced.

 

How much suburban school districts, towns, park districts and other governments owe the state varies widely but approaches $900,000 in some cases. State officials aren't asking for it all back at once.

"We are certainly sensitive to the impact recouping these funds will have on some of our taxing districts," Illinois Department of Revenue Director Connie Beard wrote in a letter. "We will be working with the impacted taxing districts to establish a plan to recapture the funds over an extended period of time."

The problem lies with the obscure Personal Property Replacement Tax, revenue that's collected by the state and distributed to local governments.

A change in law while Pat Quinn was governor created errors in sending about $168 million to about 6,500 taxing bodies. A state spokesman said local governments won't have to send the state a check, but the money will be docked over time from future tax payouts.

The error is unrelated to the historically long budget stalemate between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers. But some local governments have had to clamor for the money they're owed, and this latest wrinkle isn't likely to sit well.

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View graphicView our searchable, sortable list. Click here to to find how much the state estimates local governments owe due to an error in the Personal Property Replacement Tax allocation.


Some of the suburbs' biggest governments owe the most.

Northwest Suburban High School District 214 owes $889,000 and Maine Township High School District 207 owes $633,000. The city of Aurora owes $533,000 and Elgin Area School District U-46 owes more than $470,000. Aurora East District 131 owes $427,000, according to state numbers.

U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said his district should be able to absorb the hit, but the district already set its budget for the next year before the state announced what it owed.

"You can't even adjust," he said.

Lake County Chairman Aaron Lawlor said smaller governments might have a harder time weathering the state's mistake. The county owes $426,272.

"They already owe us $8 million, so I guess they can just take it off the top," Lawlor said.

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