Abdelnasser Rashid's Reform Agenda:
- Ensuring Fair and Transparent Assessments
Despite progress in tax equity following the implementation of the first round of new assessments in Cook County since Assessor Kaegi took office, too many big commercial properties are still under-assessed and don’t pay their fair share in property taxes.
“Your home is your most treasured and valuable asset. Nobody should be allowed to play games with it,” said Rashid, who worked on the campaign to defeat former Assessor Joe Berrios in 2018. “Downtown Chicago high-rises like Trump Tower and connected political insiders have been gaming the property tax system, causing homeowners’ taxes to rise while big corporations get massive breaks.”
As Board of Review commissioner, Abdelnasser would fight back against unfair assessments by reviewing the Assessor’s decisions based on the fair market value of each property, to ensure homeowners no longer pay a disproportionate share of the property tax burden. Under Abdelnasser's leadership, no political insiders or clouted attorneys would get special treatment. The Board of Review should release reports disclosing the methodology used to adjudicate appeals, including disclosing assumptions about capitalization rates, vacancy and other market factors.
- Protecting Seniors
At the Assessor’s Office, Abdelnasser led the successful fight in Springfield to pass the Automatic Senior Exemption Bill, HB 833, which guaranteed that seniors automatically get their property tax exemption every year, and won’t get hit with surprise tax hikes. Many people forget to fill out the yearly paperwork for the senior freeze, which must be renewed annually.
“Hundreds of thousands of seniors throughout Cook County will benefit from this law, which saves them the headache of having to reapply every year just to tell the government that they’re still over 65,” said Rashid. “It means thousands of seniors who forget to apply each year will not see a surprise property tax increase. These improvements are especially important for seniors on a fixed income.”
Abdelnasser pursued the passage of this law because he saw it as a common-sense solution measure to increase government efficiency and save taxpayer dollars. As Board of Review Commissioner, Abdelnasser will work to educate seniors about the property tax benefits available to them, including the senior freeze exemption (an income-based exemption different from the senior exemption). Cook County should make it as easy as possible for everyone, especially seniors, to reduce their property tax bill by securing the exemptions to which they are entitled to in Cook County.
- Greater Choice for Homeowners
As Board of Review Commissioner, Abdelnasser will take action to give homeowners greater choice in who they hire to represent them at the Board of Review. Currently, unless a homeowner represents themselves, they must hire a lawyer to represent them. Many other states and jurisdictions outside of Illinois do not require an attorney, and allow other experienced professionals to represent taxpayers.
“I believe property owners should be able to make their own choice about whether to hire an attorney or another qualified professional,” said Rashid. “Homeowners could have highly professional representation at a lower cost than many attorneys would likely charge.”
- Modernize the Board of Review
Abdelnasser, who minored in computer science at Harvard and led efforts to modernize the Cook County Clerk’s office, will work to save taxpayer dollars by increasing efficiencies, using technology and data to make more accurate and faster determinations.
Abdelnasser will prioritize acquiring the best market data, including from databases such as Trepp, to improve accuracy and fairness of appeals decisions. In addition, Abdelnasser will work to reduce the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board (PTAB) backlog related to Cook County, which has increased overhead for the Board of Review. It will take some adjustment to break a culture of habitual appeals.
“It will be important for the Board of Review to use data and technology to deliver on important reforms for homeowners and taxpayers,” said Rashid. “This is an important step in reducing appeal volumes and overhead.”