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Breaking Down Your Property Tax Bill

May 13, 2021

Are you curious about where your tax dollars are going?

Taxpayers can look at the front of their property tax bill where a section called “Taxing District Debt and Financial Data,” provides information for each taxing district, including:

  • Money owed by your taxing districts

  • Pension and health care amounts promised by your taxing districts

  • Amount of pension and health care shortage

  • Percentage of pension and health care costs taxing districts are able to pay

Essentially, your tax dollars go towards services like police, jails, schools, streets, parks, community colleges, public hospitals, courts, mosquito abatement, sewage treatment and much more. Over half of a typical Chicago property tax bill is for the Chicago Board of Education and a related unit of government that was created to finance school building projects. Local governments with separate governing boards ask for different amounts of property tax revenue. Roughly 30% goes to city taxes, which includes funding for things like public libraries, public parks, and streets.

Of the almost $94 million current property tax increase, $42.5 million is to meet the shortfalls in pension funding. The city’s pension funds have accumulated nearly $45 billion in debt. The pensions are only 35% funded overall, meaning they have 35 cents saved for every $1 in future promises.

If you would like to see where your city ranks in terms of the funded ratio of all pension and health care obligations, go to They are ranked worst to best.