Rauner nixes debt collectors going after delinquent taxes

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Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks to farmers and local area residents about the need for term limits and redistricting reform last month in Auburn, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

Gov. Bruce Rauner onFriday vetoeda bill that he said would have allowed Cook County and Chicago to use outside debt collectors to go after residents delinquent on certaintaxes.

In his veto, Rauner said using a private debt collectorwould “penalize property owners who are already facing skyrocketing property taxes.”

“Illinois has the second highest property taxes in the country, and those taxes continue to rise. Many property owners struggle to make tax payments. The current tax sale process provides both counties and taxpayers with a system through which to address unpaid or delinquent taxes,” Rauner said in his veto.

“Referring unpaid tax bills to private debt collectors would penalize property owners who are already facing skyrocketing property taxes. First and foremost, we need to make property taxes more affordable.”

The proposal was backed by Cook County’s Dept. of Revenue, under Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, but Preckwinkle’s office on Friday said the bill wasn’t intended to apply toproperty taxes, “more things like amusement tax, tobacco tax, a bounced check.”

State Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said it would have provided local government an additional tool to collect taxes and fees.

“This was an initiative of Cook County and we’re welcome to work with the governor to look at ways that we can reduce property taxes. But at the same time, we should give our local government that additional tool to collect taxes and fees,” Jones said.

Jones said he had hoped the initiative would have caught on in other counties that are struggling to collect fines and fees from business owners and residents.

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