Trump wins $1 million property tax refund on his namesake Chicago skyscraper

An appeals court ruled that Trump International Hotel & Tower was overvalued by Cook County officials a dozen years ago. The Chicago Public Schools stands to lose the most money — about $540,000.

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Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.

Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty

Former President Donald J. Trump and co-owners in his namesake Chicago skyscraper are now set to get $1 million in property tax refunds that they’ve been seeking for years.

That’s after the Illinois Appellate Court agreed that the Trump International Hotel & Tower was overvalued by the Cook County assessor’s office and the Cook County Board of Review a dozen years ago.

The refunds will come out of the property taxes due this year to the city of Chicago and eight other government agencies. The Chicago Public Schools system stands to lose the most money — about $540,000.

The Cook County treasurer’s office will begin preparing approximately 339 refunds totaling $1 million for the skyscraper’s hotel rooms and condo spaces after a three-member appellate court panel on Monday rejected an appeal by the Cook County Board of Review.

The appeals court ruled in favor of the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, a state agency that in June 2021 found that county officials had overvalued the commercial portions of the skyscraper in 2011.

The ruling has no impact on the Trump Tower residential condos.

Justice Mary Ellen Coghlan wrote in the 13-page ruling that the state agency’s decision in favor of Trump came after the Board of Review and its lawyers from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office had presented “no expert testimony in support of its estimation of value” for the skyscraper.

The state’s attorney’s office referred questions on the ruling to the Board of Review, which didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Unless the Board of Review appeals to the Illinois Supreme Court, this could be the end of the lengthy process for the tax appeal, which Trump originally hired Ald. Edward M. Burke to file.

The case that Burke’s law firm presented was based on an appraisal it had done that said Trump Tower’s vacant retail space along the Chicago River had no value and shouldn’t be taxed. Those stores have never been occupied.

Burke had won more than $14 million in tax breaks for Trump over a dozen years. Their relationship ended in 2018 when the Chicago Democrat cited “irreconcilable differences” with the president, whose policies angered Hispanic residents of Burke’s 14th Ward.

Ald. Edward Burke (left) with Donald Trump, a presidential candidate at the time, at the City Club of Chicago in 2015.

Ald. Edward Burke (left) with Donald Trump, a presidential candidate at the time, at the City Club of Chicago in 2015.

AP

Burke, the longest-serving Chicago City Council member ever, is retiring when his term ends next month. Burke is set to stand trial in November on racketeering charges. Among the accusations he faces is withholding city services from businesses in an effort to get them to hire his law firm to handle their property tax appeals.

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