Chicago Taxpayers Face Heavier Tax Burden Than Other Most Populous US Cities: Report

Windy City taxpayers face a much higher unfunded tax burden than those living in any of the nation’s other most populous cities, including New York, according to new calculations by Truth in Accounting (TIA).

“The City of Chicago is in significantly worse financial shape than it might first appear, and its taxpayers face the highest taxpayer burden in the country,” the Chicago-based non-profit said in a report made public Tuesday and entitled “Taxpayers on the Hook.”

The new TIA report updates one released earlier this year that found Chicago ranked second to New York City among the nation’s 10 most populated cities for the unfunded tax burden it imposes on local taxpayers.

The new report offers a more comprehensive calculation of what the unfunded obligations actually are for each taxpayer in each of the 10 cities by including data for official subsidiaries.

“These underlying governments are essentially subsidiaries of the city and the majority of their debt falls on all city taxpayers. This report analyzes these entities to give taxpayers a better understanding of their municipalities’ financial health and their Taxpayer Burden,” the report explained.

The data presents a comprehensive picture of each of the cities’ financial situation immediately prior to the onset of the CCP Virus pandemic in March 2020.

“Our ‘Financial State of the Cities’ report released earlier this year found that Chicago ranked No. 74 out of the 75 most populous U.S. cities with a taxpayer burden of $41,100, which is each taxpayer’s share of municipal debt. Only New York City fared worse with a taxpayer burden of $68,200,” TIA said in its latest analysis.

“However, when you combine the debt of these underlying government entities, the county, the city, and the state, Chicago’s taxpayer burden skyrockets to $126,600, while New York City’s taxpayer burden rises to $85,400,” the TIA report said.

The breakdown of the Chicago taxpayer’s burden includes:

  • $52,000 for the State of Illinois
  • $41,100 for the City of Chicago.
  • $19,500 for the Chicago Public Schools.
  • $8,500 for Cook County.
  • $4,000 for the Chicago Transit Authority.
  • $1,700 for the Chicago Park District.
  • $900 for the Chicago Housing Authority.
  • $600 for the Metro Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
  • $100 for the Chicago Community College District.

These figures cover all that would be needed to pay off state, city, county, and underlying governments’ unfunded debt for taxpayers residing within the boundaries of the City of Chicago.

Chicago has been especially hard hit in recent years by a spiraling crime rate and repeated strikes by public school teachers’ unions.

Chicago Police Department CompStat data shows a 56 percent increase in murders for the most recently available week of April 26–May 2, compared to the same period in 2020, as well as a 44 percent increase in criminal sexual assaults, a 37 percent increase in robberies, and an 82 percent increase in thefts. The overall increase for the period is 29 percent.

An agreement between the city and Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) officials in February ended months of intense negotiations that at multiple points appeared to be ending in stalemate as students remained at home in virtual classes due to the pandemic.

The agreement came after city officials agreed to spend an additional $100 million on pandemic-related safety measures, including thousands of classroom air filters. The city’s public schools have more than 340,000 students enrolled.

The eight cities of the top 10 most populous cities with lower taxpayer burdens than Chicago and New York include:

  • Phoenix $10,400
  • San Antonio $19,200
  • Houston $24,400
  • Dallas $26,000
  • San Diego $34,100
  • San Jose $41,800
  • Philadelphia $45,300
  • Los Angeles $47,600

The $52,000 debt line for Illinois facing Chicago taxpayers reflects the fact that the state’s financial condition ranks as the 49th worst in the nation, trailing only New Jersey in the 50th place and just ahead of the Connecticut in 48th place.

“Illinois’s elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that left the state with a debt burden of $226 billion. That burden equates to $52,000 for every state taxpayer,” TIA said earlier this year in its state calculations report.

“Illinois’s financial problems stem mostly from unfunded retirement obligations that have accumulated over the years. Of the $292.1 billion in retirement benefits promised, the state did not fund $144.2 billion in pension and $56.1 billion in retiree health care benefits,” TIA said.

Congressional correspondent Mark Tapscott may be contacted at

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Mark Tapscott
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