For decades, Cook County, Illinois, has had one of the highest property tax rates in the country, and as a result the County has begun to experience unprecedented foreclosure rates which has contributed, in part, to the State’s significant population decline. Residents are forced to endure a property tax system that disproportionately burdens low-income homeowners, while providing tax breaks to higher-income individuals and commercial owners. The primary causes and characteristics of Cook County’s defunct property tax system are strikingly similar to those that sent the City of Detroit spiraling into bankruptcy in 2013.

This note provides a comparative analysis of the economic, societal, and political factors that led to the Detroit Foreclosure Crisis and how these same factors are prevalent in modern-day Cook County. Along with the various causes behind Cook County’s defective property tax system, this note explores the detrimental effects that the excessive property taxes have on low-income residents, particularly within the impoverished communities on the South Side of Chicago. Ultimately, significant changes to the property tax system are necessary to prevent Cook County from suffering the same fate as Detroit.