Cook County Treasurer (DEM)

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  1. Elected offices held and civic involvement


    I have served as Treasurer and Board Member of the East Village Association, Treasurer and Commissioner of Special Service Area No. 29 (the West Town Commission), Associate Board Member of the Center for Economic Progress, and Auxiliary Board Member of Christ The King Jesuit College Preparatory School in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.

    In the 2016 cycle, I volunteered for Raja Krishnamoorthi’s successful campaign for Illinois' 8th Congressional District. I was a part of his campaign for 21 months (March 2015 through November 2016) -- from the exploration phase to the final victory. My wife is Indian-American and for us it is extremely rewarding to see Democrats from diverse backgrounds - like Raja - winning elections. In Raja’s campaign, I was involved from the grassroots on up, from organizing events, knocking on doors, making phone calls, delivering yard signs and marching in parades.


    Elected Offices:

    • Cook County Treasurer Cook County Commissioner

    Civic Involvement:

    • Government Finance Officers Association
    • Illinois County Treasurers' Association
    • National Association of County Collectors, Treasurers and Finance Officers
    • The Economics Club of Chicago
    • Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
    • Museum in the Park
    • Chicago Council on Global Affairs
    • The Polish Museum of America
    • The Chicago Network
  2. 1. How will you, as Cook County treasurer, work for transparent, accountable, efficient government?


    While I believe that I have the right skillset to reinvent and bring new value to the Cook County Treasurer’s office, it remains unfortunate and concerning that very few people seek this office. In a county of 5.25 million people, my opponent and I are the only people from either party running and that minimal interest in the office is a problem when one considers that I am the first Democrat, other than my opponent, to run for this office in 20 years. The reason that this office has not been regularly and seriously sought is because it has not performed to a level that would routinely attract strong candidates.

    I am running for Cook County Treasurer to shake up an office that has not scratched the surface of its enormous potential to demonstrate how taxpayers should be treated and empowered by their government. With the assistance of an independent volunteer advisory panel, I am committed to an endlessly improving an itemized taxpayer receipt that plainly and helpfully informs all Cook County residents (property owners and renters) that clearly explains how their money is spent. Additionally, I will work to deposit the tax dollars of Cook County taxpayers within banks and credit unions based in Cook County. I will also work with the Illinois State Legislature to remove the punitive practice of selling the tax debt of impoverished fellow Illinoisans.

    The function of the Cook County Treasurer should be performed by an elected official who is directly accountable to the taxpayers of Cook County; as to whether the function of Cook County Treasurer should be merged with another countywide elected office, I support an independent audit of all county-wide offices to generate recommendations for consolidation that would streamline functions and result in savings to taxpayers.

    To address ongoing cost overruns that contribute to rising tax bills, the offices of the Cook County Treasurer and the Cook County Clerk should be examined for a potential merger. The projected merits and challenges that would result from merging the offices should be shared publicly and presented to the Cook County Board of Commissioners, who will hopefully place the measure on the ballot as soon as reasonably possible so the public can ultimately decide.

    There are very specific problems I want to be a part of solving, and right now, the Cook County Treasurer’s office is the most direct route to solving them. If I am fortunate enough to be elected, the best way to leave the office better than when I inherited it, is to make sure that it is regularly attracting the most innovative and driven minds to run for it, which has not been the case for a very long time.


    Below, please find how I have, and will continue to provide transparent, accountable and efficient government as Treasurer.

    Budget: The Treasurer’s Office budget for fiscal year 2018 is $12.9 million. Only $900,000 comes from taxpayer revenues. Instead, my office holds commercial users accountable by requiring them to pay for the efficiencies we provide them. 2018 is the 17th straight year I have reduced my budget.

    Staff Reductions: I have reduced the number of positions in the office from 250 in 1998 to 88.5 in 2018, a reduction of 64.6 percent. Otherwise, the Treasurer’s Office budget in 2018 would have been approximately $43 million.

    Debt Disclosure Ordinance (DDO): The DDO has provided never-before-seen transparency in local government. I drafted the DDO and the County Board passed it at my urging to require 549 primary local governments provide their financial data and reports annually so that my office can display that information on tax bills and my website. Taxpayers now possess the data for governments to be held accountable for how and why taxpayers’ dollars are spent.

    Automated Tax Sale: Turned an open-outcry auction of unpaid taxes that took nearly a month to an efficient, automated process that now only takes four days.

    Returned Mail Project: Instituted a project to reduce the number of tax bills returned as undeliverable by the USPS. More than 30,000 bills were delivered that would have otherwise been returned.

    Electronic Tax Billing Program: 33,572 bills are sent via email, allowing taxpayers to receive each tax bill via email instead of a physical hard copy bill.

    Downloadable Electronic Tax Bill: 92,889 taxpayers have downloaded or printed their PDF tax bill since July 2017 when this option was first offered.

    Payments: In 1998, there were two payment options. Now, there are nine payment options, including online and credit card. 460,000 online payments are made each year. Since 2002, we have collected more than four million online payments. 143,000 credit cards payments have been paid since July 2012.

    Website: 54 million people have visited since 2004 to:

    • Pay taxes Check payment status
    • Search for refunds
    • Check four-year exemption history
    • Download forms, applications and brochures
    • Obtain local taxing agency financial data
    • View information in 103 languages.
    • Informational brochures have been downloaded 480,339 times since 2006 with foreign language brochures downloaded 402,503 times.

    Automated Phone System: 323,903 inquiries were received from January 1, 2016 to March 1, 2017, providing information on payments and refunds in English, Polish and Spanish. 67,000 live inquiries were handled by staff in 2017.

    Email System: 137,000 emails have been received and answered since 2003. Automatic responses to commonly asked questions by taxpayers are displayed before a question is submitted.

    Automatic Name/Address Changes: The office receives a daily file from other government sources that contains updated owners’ names and addresses and automatically changes where tax bills are sent to ensure the new owner gets their bill.

    War on Paper: 4,765,458 individual paper pages from 12,011 worn and crumbling Warrant Books were scanned into an electronic system created by my office. The office implemented the first phase of a Paperless Customer Service System in 2016.

    Stopping Overpayments: 65,000 overpayments (about $272 million) have been stopped and returned to taxpayers since 2010.

    Refund Enhancements: Reduced processing time for Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) refund by importing an electronic file and eliminating paper applications. For court-ordered refunds, the office created a web-based interface that attorneys utilize during the court proceedings and refund process.

  3. 2. What are the most important ways the treasurer’s office interacts with County residents? What steps will you take to improve that relationship?


    The most important responsibility and opportunity of the treasurer’s office is as the primary point of contact for taxpayers with county government. The job of the treasurer is unique in that it does not vote on anything and does not yet assess anything, yet it is still in an optimal position to empower taxpayers, and voters.

    It it virtually impossible to advocate for any issue without useful information, and when it comes to information on the value received for rising property taxes, the Cook County Treasurer has long been positioned empower all of the county’s property taxpayers (both owners and renters) to gain confidence in the value they are receiving for their rising taxes, and if they are not pleased with where and how their money is being spent, which of their elected officials is best positioned to receive and act on the taxpayer’s feedback. Making sure one’s tax dollars align with his or her priorities is inextricably linked to civic engagement, and the Cook County Treasurer’s has the untapped potential to empower all of the county’s residents in this way.

    Should a citizen say, “what am I getting for my vote?” the Cook County Treasurer should embrace the opportunity to show people the alignment of their rising taxes, their desired services from local government and the budget votes of their elected officials. If elected Cook County Treasurer, I will embrace that opportunity to the relationship between the treasurer’s office and Cook County’s residents.


    My office website, automated phone system, and email response system are examples of providing information to county residents regardless of their ethnic background.

    Website: Since 2004, 54 million people have visited which is available in 103 different languages. Informational brochures have been downloaded 480,339 times since 2006. 23-different foreign language brochures have been downloaded 402,503 times.

    Automated Phone System: 323,903 inquiries were received from January 1, 2016 to March 1, 2017, providing information on payments and refunds in English, Polish and Spanish. 67,000 live inquiries were handled by staff in 2017.

    Email System: 137,000 emails have been received and answered since 2003. Automatic responses to commonly asked questions by taxpayers are displayed before a question is submitted.

    Prepayment of Taxes: Recently, when no other Illinois county had the ability for taxpayers to prepay 2017 taxes, my office was ready. We had electronic capability in place for taxpayers to simply pay online or to download their bill and pay at a Chase Bank. We collected approximately $750 million in prepayments, money that will ease financial burdens on local governments.

    Delinquent Tax Outreach Program: My delinquent tax outreach program has increased awareness among the most vulnerable citizens who owe small amounts of taxes on their homes. If taxes are unpaid, these homeowners could lose their homes. My office sent multiple delinquent notices and continues to partner with various elected officials throughout the city and suburbs. Due to this outreach, there were only 11,031 PINs sold last year, the fewest number sold in the last ten years. My efforts continue this partnership with Aldermen, County Commissioners, State Representatives, State Senators and Municipalities as the next annual sale will be held in May 2018.

  4. 3. What should the treasurer’s role be in supporting the local economy?


    When deciding where to deposit county tax dollars, the Treasurer, as with every decision made in the office, should be focused on generating additional value for taxpayers, particularly those of whom live or do business in areas of Cook County that have historically had more difficulty attracting capital and the support of financial institutions.

    If elected, I will work with federally insured credit unions and community banks in underserved areas of the county to make strategic deposits in institutions with a track record of supporting prospective homeowners and small businesses, while at all times protecting taxpayer dollars.

    The bottom line is that the tax dollars of the county’s taxpayers should be working for the residents and small businesses of Cook County in as many ways as possible, and one more way to do that is by depositing county dollars in financial institutions with a history of service to Cook County's taxpayers who have most often been overlooked.


    The office collects about $13 billion yearly in two installments on almost 1.8 million parcels of real estate in Cook County (second most populous in the country). These funds are then quickly distributed to over 2,000 taxing districts across the County who rely on this revenue to fund operations. Once the money is collected, it goes back out.

    Additionally, local taxing districts have benefited from over $1.5 billion in interest and penalties distributed to them by my office since 1999.

    117 local community banks throughout Cook County accept property tax payments providing convenient accessibility for residents to pay in their neighborhood. These locations are listed on

  5. 4. How will you demonstrate transparency as treasurer? What would you propose to improve residents' understanding of the treasurer's duties


    To improve the operations of the Cook County Treasurer’s office, I will pursue the creation of an itemized taxpayer receipt that goes far beyond the current tax bill’s limited breakdown that stops at the taxing district level. I will deposit Cook County’s tax dollars into financial institutions that serve traditionally underserved areas of the county, and I will work with the Illinois State Legislature to end the punitive practice of selling the tax debt of impoverished Illinoisans to private collectors who have no interest in the health of our communities.

    Most of us interact with how our tax dollars are spent on a regular basis. Public schools, local roads, parks, emergency services, and other amenities in Cook County are primarily funded by local property taxes. Like many people, I am most concerned with the potholes in my neighborhood, the resources that support first responders in my community, the public schools my 1-year old daughter will one-day attend, and the nearby park that my family and I utilize.

    Currently, a Cook County taxpayer who wants to see how their household is directly served by their property tax dollars has to tediously assemble information from all layers of their respective taxing districts, of which there are roughly 2,200 throughout Cook County, with the average taxpayer dollars spread across twelve taxing districts.

    To be clear, any information not provided in a useful format is done so needlessly. Do not let anyone mislead you into believing that you cannot understand how your tax dollars align with your priorities, because you can and you absolutely should. The existing system seeks to placate taxpayers with barely enough information so it can be called transparent. When I go in for my annual physical, the doctor doesn't just hand me a sheet with the results of my blood work and says, "Here, I'm being transparent." Instead, the doctor uses the raw data to objectively inform me in a clear and useful way that empowers me with information about my health. Taxpayers deserve the same useful transparency on their individual property taxes.

    Making a tax bill easy to understand to the point of being enlightening is a matter of will and creativity that falls on the shoulders of the Cook County Treasurer, an office which as the countywide collector of property taxes is optimally positioned to embrace the mission of financial literacy for every taxpayer in the county.

    Additionally, property tax bills should disclose the increase attributed to the existence of Cook County’s hundreds of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts for those taxpayers whose property is not located within a TIF. In 2016, the City of Chicago’s 145 TIFs absorbed $561 million of property tax dollars, which meant that to meet the needs of the city’s budget, taxpayers had to fill the $561 million gap created by the existence of those TIFs. That is an example of the information that every property taxpayer deserves to have at their fingertips when calling their elected official with an issue about how their tax dollars are being spent.

    Understandably, no one is happy with any bill, whether it’s for groceries, utilities, or property taxes. But with a clear connection between money paid and value received, it is possible to be more comfortable with a bill. This kind of transparency is the first step to providing equal access to every taxpayer. Whether you buy one item at the grocery store or a whole cartful, you can read your itemized receipt and clearly see what you received for your money. You might feel that the price of a particular item is too high, but you likely do not feel robbed by the entire grocery store.

    A person does not need a background in tax, law, or municipal finance to be able to understand if he or she is receiving adequate value for taxes paid. Residents should not be made to feel stupid or pressured into being quiet if they have a sincere question or concern. By presenting all taxpayers with information in an easily digestible format, more people of all levels of education, income, and experience will have the confidence to step forward and advocate to their elected officials for how they want their tax dollars to be used.

    I will never have every good idea, yet I owe it to every constituent and myself to do the best job possible with the most informed perspective possible. So, if I am fortunate enough to be elected, I will convene an independent, volunteer advisory panel with representation from organized labor, clean government advocates, community activists, academia and others groups representing large constituencies. The advisory panel’s recommendations will be made public, so that should I choose to not accept one of their suggestions, the public will be able to ask why chose a different direction.

    The Cook County Treasurer has the responsibility and potential to endlessly reinvent the office as a taxpayer advocate that evolves with the concerns and best interest of all Cook County’s residents. To be blunt, I am not running to sit in office for 20 years. I would rather have one term of honest production and service than a static career of continuous self-preservation.


    The Taxing District Debt Disclosure Ordinance, which I authored and fought for its passage despite the objections of many local governments, provides extraordinary transparency into local debts and liabilities.

    The ordinance, approved by the County Board of Commissioners in September 2009, requires the county’s 549 primary local governments to provide their financial data and annual financial reports to the office each year including:

    • Audited financial statements from their most recent audit
    • Money owed (or total debts and liabilities)
    • Pension and Retiree Healthcare information (including the amount promised to retirees and the amount promised that local governments do not have)

    In 2017, an average of 450,000 visitors per month accessed my website at to pay taxes or seek more information about the Treasurer’s Office. The site includes local government financial data for residents to see how their tax dollars are used. Current and future projects are also listed on my website at within the State of the Office report.