Court Battles

Chicago owes Trump $1M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge

The Cook County state's attorney is seeking to block a $1 million tax refund that the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board ruled is owed to former President Trump on his Chicago skyscraper's 2011 tax bill. 

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the office of Cook County State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx filed a lawsuit this month with the Illinois Appellate Court against the refund, stating that the former president's refund would take away taxpayer dollars from Chicago public schools and other agencies to pay for it. 

Last month, the state property tax board voted 5-0 that the value of the Trump International Hotel & Tower had been overassessed, thus leaving Trump eligible for a refund totaling $1.03 million. 

The tax breaks had been sought on behalf of Trump by the law firm Klafter & Burke, formerly run by Chicago Alderman Edward Burke (D).

Burke has since pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial on federal charges that he blocked businesses from getting city permits until they hired his law group. 

Burke, who ended his professional relationship with Trump in 2018, citing "irreconcilable differences," won Trump more than $14 million in tax breaks over a dozen years, according to the Sun-Times. 

The tower case centers around the value of the skyscraper's hotel rooms and retail spaces, including vacant storefronts along the Chicago River. 

The Sun-Times reported that the state tax agency initially rejected Trump's argument that his vacant storefronts did not hold any value because they had never been leased by tenants. 

A hearing officer for the state tax agency denied attempts by Burke to win a refund in 2018, arguing in his opinion that the law firm failed to demonstrate that Cook County had overassessed the value of the Trump building. 

A later report written by another staff member agreed with Burke's arguments, though the case was delayed until after Trump left the Oval Office, according to the Sun-Times. 

If a decision by the Illinois Appellate Court is appealed, it can be brought before the Illinois Supreme Court, which is led by Burke's wife, Chief Justice Anne Burke.

When reached by The Hill, the Cook County state's attorney's office said it could not comment on pending litigation. 

The Hill has also reached out to the Trump Organization for comment. 

In March, CNN reported that the Chicago skyscraper was being looked into as part of the Manhattan district attorney's investigation into Trump's finances, specifically a $130 million loan from Fortress Investment Management that went into the construction of the building. 

Fortress reportedly forgave more than $100 million of the original loan by 2012, when the loan totaled around $150 million.

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