Last week, State Representative Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) joined with colleagues in the Illinois House of Representatives to pass legislation to reform tax increment financing districts, better known as TIF’s. In addition passing House Bill 3720, which reforms the way surplus TIF funds can be used, Skillicorn is also working on legislation to improve TIF transparency and reform the way TIF’s are used to entice businesses.
“The original purpose of these TIF districts was to help rebuild blighted properties and provide economic stimulus,” said Skillicorn. “Unfortunately, in many cases TIF districts have become a misused form of underperforming corporate welfare that ultimately adds more and more costs to taxpayers.”
House Bill 3720, which Skillicorn helped pass last week, reforms the TIF process by allowing surplus funds collected through a TIF district to be used for public school expenses. Public schools frequently bear the unintended consequence of TIF districts, which put more pressure on local property taxpayers.
To help curb the burden placed on property taxpayers by TIF’s, Skillicorn is working on legislation to prevent municipalities from luring businesses from other Illinois communities by offering businesses TIF funds. This practice of using taxpayer funds as an incentive for business development, while intended to provide economic stimulus, often leads to higher taxes for the TIF impacted community in addition to the loss of economic activity for the community the business has left. House Bill 361, which Skillicorn has already filed, seeks to add transparency to the TIF process by requiring property tax bills to contain a list of the TIF districts and the amount of tax dollars going to them. Doing so would allow property taxpayers to see exactly how much of their tax dollars are going to TIF districts.
“Taxpayers have a right to know exactly how much they are contributing to TIF districts,” said Skillicorn. “They also shouldn’t have to worry about losing businesses and jobs in their community because a TIF is being used to lure businesses away.”