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Pritzkers dodge all their taxes — not just the federal ones... Unite - HERE and Crain's Chicago Business report how Penny dodges local property taxes (and tries to hide it) while serving on the Board of Education


Chicago Board of Education member Penny Pritzker (above, during the Board's February 22, 2012 meeting) makes sure that she pays the lowest federal and local taxes, thanks to decades-old tax dodges to avoid federal taxes and local property tax appeals to dodge local ones. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.
One of the delightful things about having ten or eleven billionaires named Pritzker in Chicago is that they are even more convoluted than a Russian novel in their permutations and machinations. One part of the family is going off pushing Kabala, while another is feuding (temporarily) about trust fund inheritances, while another is ladling out corporate school reform on behalf of Rahm Emanuel.

But there is one thing all Pritzkers have, almost as part of their DNA: tax dodging. Since the patriarch A. N. Pritzker set up that endless series of Bahamian trusts to dodge federal taxes back in the 1960s and 1970s, tax dodging (the "legal" kind that billionaires and millionaires can afford to do) has been a Pritzker family speciality, even when there are disagreements within the clan. Anyone who wants to read the SEC filings on behalf of the various Pritzker owners of the Hyatt Hotels can go numb reading each of those reports that dead ends in a Trust in Nassau.


Above, Pritzker aide Beth Swanson stood by the side with Michael Milkie under the proud "Pritzker Nobls St..." sign during Rahm Emanuel's infomercial for the "Noble Network of Charter Schools" at the "Noble Street Pritzker Campus" on December 16, 2011, just before Rahm and his family left for their $20,000 vacation in South America. Swanson serves as Emanuel's liaison with CPS, and also as executive director of the "Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation," which is owned by Penny Pritzker and husband Bryan Traubert. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.
But now, thanks to Unite HERE and Crain's Chicago Business, we learn that Pritzker tax dodging is also taking place with the taxes that pay for the public schools Penny Pritzker is helping oversee on behalf of Rahm Emanuel. Of course, it's not only Penny and her husband dodging local property taxes for that pile on Orchard St. a couple of blocks from Lincoln Park High, but a "Who's Who" of local Pritzkers dodging local property taxes on mansions that most Chicagoans would find suitable to house everyone on their block.


Harry Tamarin (left) of Unite HERE released the union's study of Pritzker dodges of local property taxes in February 2012. Above, Tamarin with CTU Vice President Jess Sharkey during the March 2011 march against TIF ripoffs on Chicago's north side. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.
I was really glad that I maintain my subscription to "Crain's" when I read the following in this week's (February 27, 2012) print edition this morning, and equally glad that our brothers and sisters at Unite HERE are keeping watch on all things Pritzker. But someone should probably mention at the next Board of Education meeting (if Penny shows up; she was truant for one recently, although she was definitely there to vote on the "turnaround" and closing agenda on February 22) that someone who sits on the school board should be paying her fair share of school taxes. Even if she was trained by her family long before she went to Harvard and Stanford in the fine family arts of dodging taxes and adding to her already surfeited billions.



An appealing reason to be a Pritzker, By Shia Kapos February 27, 2012

Just as lots of Chicago homeowners do, members of the Pritzker family challenge their property tax assessments. They do it often — and with results.

According to documents from the Cook County assessor's office, political fundraiser Penny Pritzker and her husband, Bryan Traubert, an ophthalmologist and civic leader, have repeatedly appealed the tax bill on their Lincoln Park mansion.

The couple have appealed 10 times since 2006. They've been successful twice and are waiting to hear on two other appeals. So far, they've saved close to $200,000 by successfully arguing that their place — a seven-bathroom, 8,400-square-foot home on three typical city lots — was assessed at too high a value when compared with similar properties.

The public documents about the tax matters were pulled together by a labor union battling the family's Hyatt Hotels Corp.

The family isn't commenting on the information. The union says the data are proof that the Pritzkers skirt the system at the expense of education and parks programs that benefit from property tax revenue.

"When billionaires game the system, the rest of us pay the price," says Henry Tamarin, president of Unite Here Local 1.


Pritzker Tax Protest: Activists Target Chicago's Richest Family's Property Tax Bill

A group of Chicago homeowners, hospitality workers and community leaders is calling on Chicago's wealthiest family to pay their fair share of property taxes.

Unite Here, a hospitality union representing over 15,000 hotel and food service workers in Chicago, released a report Thursday titled "Tax Relief for Billionaires" that accuses members of the Pritzker family of routinely soliciting and obtaining local property tax reductions on their multi-million dollar Chicago homes.

"When billionaires pay less taxes, we all pay the price," said Linda O'Neal, a server at the W Chicago Lakeshore and homeowner with three children enrolled in Chicago Public Schools, according to a press release from Unite Here. "I don't make the kind of money the Pritzkers make, but I pay my fair share of taxes. It's time for Chicago's wealthiest family to stand up and stop hurting our communities."

Citing documents from the Cook County assessor's office, the coalition's report states that Penny Pritzker, the daughter of Sue and Donald Pritzker and Chairperson of Classic Residence by Hyatt, has appealed the tax bill on her Lincoln Park mansion 10 times since 2006, and has been successful twice, saving close to $200,000, with two more appeals pending.

The report also targets other members of the fifth wealthiest family in the U.S., including Tom Pritzker, chief executive of The Pritzker Organization, and filmmaker Gigi Pritzker Pucker, who both live in a historic Lincoln Park cooperative that has appealed its property taxes at least 15 times since 2003, according to the report, and has received reductions for four of the past nine years, including a 27 percent decrease in 2009.

UNITE HERE reviewed property tax records of the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park residences of members of the billionaire Pritzker family, including Tom Pritzker, Penny Pritzker, Nick Pritzker, and Gigi Pritzker Pucker, as well as business associate and Hyatt Hotels CEO Mark Hoplamazian. The union's research revealed that those properties' owners have appealed their assessments at least 70 times since 2003, and have lowered tax payments by over $300,000 from 2006 to 2010.

Penny Pritzker is one of seven members of the Chicago Board of Education, which receives most of the property taxes paid by Chicago homeowners. Her husband, Bryan Traubert, is the President of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners, which is also partially funded by property taxes. Two appeals on the value of Ms. Pritzker's house are before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board. If the appeal succeeds, the refund could come at the expense of the Chicago Board of Education and other public agencies.

"I think it's unacceptable that Penny Pritzker sits on the Chicago Board of Education, and at the same time is fighting to lower her property taxes at our schools' expense," said Teran Loeppke, an ordained clergyperson in the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church. "Ms. Pritzker should

Tax Relief for Billionaires                                                                                    

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