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Rahm Emanuel Property Taxes


Q: Does Rahm Emanuel pay property taxes?

A: The president’s chief of staff does pay taxes on his home. Failed attempts to find his records are the fault of shoddy research.

FULL QUESTION

Any idea if this is true?

Chain e-mail text: Why doesn’t Rahm Emanuel pay property taxes?

[EET ]According to the Cook County Assessor’s website, the Chicago home of four-term Democrat Congressman and new White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, doesn’t exist. While the address of 4228 North Hermitage is listed as Emanuel’s residence on the Illinois State Board of Elections’ website, there seems to be no public record of Emanuel ever paying property taxes on this home.

The Cook County Assessor’s and Cook County Treasurer’s online records indicate Emanuel’s Chicago neighbors pay between $3,500 and $7,000 annually. However, Illinois Review has been unable to locate any evidence that the former Clinton advisor and investment banker is paying his fair share of Cook County’s notoriously high tax burden.

Why wouldn’t 4228 North Hermitage property owners Rahm Emanuel and wife Amy Rule pay property taxes?

One reason may be because Emanuel and Rule declared their 4228 North Hermitage home as the office location for their personal non-profit foundation called the "Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule Charitable Foundation". As the non-profit’s headquarters, their home could be exempt from paying property taxes.

In January 2007, USA Today reported on Emanuel’s foundation:

The Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule Charitable Trust was formed in 2002, when the Chicago lawmaker was first elected. The former Clinton White House aide and his wife, Amy Rule, are its only donors. Emanuel was an investment banker after serving in the White House.

The trust reported having $2,900 on hand at the end of 2005 after receiving $34,000 from Emanuel and donating more than $31,000 During the past three years, Emanuel’s charity gave nearly $25,000 to the Anshe Emet synagogue and school [a private school that the Rahm/Rule children attend]…, and $15,000 to the foundation run by former president Bill Clinton. It also gave $14,000 to Marwen, a Chicago charity that provides art classes and other educational help to low-income children. Rule is on Marwen’s board.

(He doesn’t pay any property taxes and he gets income tax write-offs by donating $25,000 to the Synagogue and other amounts of money to his Foundation. This allows his kids to attend school tuition-free and allows him to expense a lot of personal expenses. What a racket!

Take all your income and donate it back to yourself via tax exempt orgs. where you can spend it on things such as expenses to operate your car, pay the electric and water bills, etc.

(Apparently if you are a hypocritical "liberal" democrat who advocates raising taxes on everyone else, this is all permissible.)

Emanuel’s 4228 North Hermitage home is one of the largest in the neighborhood, with a side yard that appears to be a vacant lot, making the Emanuels’ property the largest portion on the block.

Other North Hermitage homes on Emanuel’s block are valued in the $500,000 plus range. According to Cook County Treasurer’s website, the Chicago owners of nearby 118 year old 4222 North Hermitage pay almost $6800 annually. The family at 4224 North Heritage pays $6000 each year in property taxes.

President Obama – himself a connected, Chicago insider, who has benefited from questionable land deals – may find it difficult to explain why his very own Chicago-based chief of staff doesn’t pay property taxes like the "little guy" he claims to represent. Or perhaps allowing his wealthy friends to avoid taxes is part of Obama’s trickle down redistribution economics. It’s certainly the kind of "change" we Illinoisans can believe in…since we’re quite familiar with it here in the federal indictment land of Daley, Blagojevich, Madigan, Jones, Cellini, Rezko, …….and maybe, soon ….. Burris.[/EET]

FULL ANSWER

Not only does White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel pay his property taxes, but he pays them in advance. Property taxes for the first half of 2008 were due on Tuesday, March 3, 2009. Emanuel paid his on February 23. Last year, he paid $13,022.60 in taxes on his home.

The e-mail above is taken from a post made by the conservative blog Illinois Review on Nov. 6, 2008 (the site has now removed the post, but it lives on in chain e-mail form). It says that there is no record of Emanuel ever paying property taxes on his home in Chicago and cites a number of sneaky ways that Emanuel could have gotten out of paying the taxes. But the very premise of the post is wrong: Illinois Review bloggers needed to do a little more reporting before jumping to conclusions. The reason they didn’t find tax records is that Emanuel’s mailing address is different from his official property location in the Cook County tax records.

"His house sits on two lots," said Eric Herman at the Cook County Assessor’s Office. It’s not at all unusual, Herman told us, for combined lots to use one address for mail even though a different address is associated with the property’s permanent index number used in tax records. Cook County assesses homes using PINs for exactly this reason; addresses can change when lots are broken up or combined. "The bottom line," says Herman, "is that it’s the same property. Two lots, one PIN number." In fact, tax records for Emanuel’s house show both addresses – one for the property location, and one for the mailing address. Anyone can access the tax information with the PIN (14-18-408-035-0000), and we’ve posted a pdf of the record here so you can see for yourself.

Herman said that the Illinois Review bloggers had searched the Cook County records by address, not by PIN, using the mailing address from Emanuel’s financial disclosure form. He notes that they didn’t call the assessor’s office or make any attempt to verify the information. In fact, Herman told us he posted comments on the blog alerting IR to the error, but his comments were deleted. IR took the entire post down a day later, citing "government intimidation." The site also posted a follow-up reasserting that Emanuel’s mailing address had no associated tax records, but acknowledging that "Emanuel’s foundation has no impact on his property taxes." 

The follow-up closes by saying, "Where there is smoke, there is usually fire." No word on whether this applies when the smoke is a mirage.

-Jess Henig

Sources

Office of the Cook County Treasurer. 2008 and 2007 tax year information for 4232 N. Hermitage Ave. Accessed 4 Mar. 2009.

Illinois Review. "Where There’s Smoke…" 6 Nov. 2008.