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Editorial: Property tax bills in July? This is oddly good

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Updated: July 13, 2012 6:15AM

Everyone knows the exact date federal income taxes are due: April 15, unless that falls on a weekend or holiday.

But in Cook County, the deadline for the second installment of property taxes has been much more, shall we say, fluid: October, November, December. In short, whenever the county got around to it, no matter how much that messed with your household budget or planning by local governments.

This year, though, the various county agencies that prepare tax bills finally got their act together. The bills are scheduled to go out before the official July 1 deadline, with a payment due date of Aug. 1.

That may come as a shock to people used to paying in November or December. The high gasoline prices that they thought might blow a hole in their vacation budgets will be nothing compared to a big tax bill that feels like it’s three months early.

But consider this: Christmas gift budgeting just got easier. And if the county stays on its schedule, you won’t find three “semiannual” tax bills showing up in your mailbox within nine months of each other.

Best of all, taxpayers will get more value for the buck.

When tax bills and payments run late, local units of government — school districts, park districts, libraries, etc. — have to borrow money until their tax revenues arrive. The interest on that borrowing, which Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Michael M. Cabonargi estimates at $3 million a month countywide, comes out of taxpayers’ pockets, with nothing to show for it (except happy banks).

When Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle took office, she vowed to put an end to late tax bills, which at the time seemed to us like a tall order. Nobody had pulled that off since 1978.

But Preckwinkle did it — the equivalent of calling a double bank shot in pool and sinking it, with the cooperation of the other county officials: Assessor Joseph Berrios, Treasurer Maria Pappas, County Clerk David Orr and the Board of Review.

Good work.

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