What is the Real Estate Transfer Tax?

The proposed Real Estate Transfer Tax ballot referendum will change the marginal tax rate on residential and commercial properties throughout Chicago. If passed, the new Real Estate Transfer Tax will create a tiered, marginal tax structure on property sales above $1 million, with the sale of any property between $1 million and $1.5 million at 2% on the amount over $1 million and sales over $1.5 million taxed at 3% on the amount above $1.5 million.

If passed, the Real Estate Transfer Tax will negatively impact Chicago’s economy by:

Significantly decrease real estate transactions and real estate development

Reduce economic investment and financing opportunities that drive Chicago’s growth

Tremendously decrease construction and permanent jobs, devastating Chicago’s middle class

Mayor Johnson’s Real Estate Transfer Tax Misleads Chicago Voters!

Mayor Johnson claims his tax will generate $1 billion in new revenue over 10 years, while creating $900 million in new jobs and economic investment.

1. Transfer taxes fluctuate year to year and are not a reliable revenue stream. Los Angeles enacted a similar Real Estate Transfer Tax and experienced decreased revenues, including substantial negative impacts to multi-family housing access.

2. No detailed plan for how this money will be spent exists. Remarkably, the Mayor will only draft the rules governing how this revenue will be spent after the election.

Mayor Johnson claims his Real Estate Transfer Tax will not increase rents, and will only impact wealthy homeowners and downtown high-rise buildings.


1.  Renters will see an increase throughout Chicago, as the new tax will be “transferred” down to the occupant. Residential properties make up 98% of total property value but pay 50% of total property taxes. Substantial decreases in commercial real estate values – as we have seen – results in significant increases in property taxes and rents.

2. A League of Women Voters study showed a recently sold 14-unit Little Village apartment building will see a monthly rent increase of between $65 per ($780 annually) and $109 ($1308 annually) per unit over a 3-5 year period to recoup
the investment costs under the Mayor’s tax.

The stakes cannot be higher for Chicago’s future