In 2018, North Lawndale native Anthony Travis, 66, found himself paying more in property twice as much in property taxes than he should have been paying due to the value of his home. The experience, he said, inspired him to research the source of his plight. Two years later, Travis, who currently resides in the suburbs, is called the “Tax Doctor” for his homegrown expertise.
Earlier this month, he spoke about his experience, his personal education and his ideas for reform.
On his situation with his home
What happened to me was my mortgage company decided they would put the property up for auction and I went downtown to the sale and they put the house up for sale for $24,000. There were no takers, so the property went back to the mortgage company.
Even though the property was worth $24,000, they taxed it as if it was worth $60,000- or $70,000-something dollars and I had to live with that. To show you how corrupt the system is, if you didn’t have a major law firm like Michael Madigan and them guys, you’re not going to get the type of help you think you need. Whereas they were giving some people a 1 percent or maybe 2 percent reduction, those folk [represented by well-connected lawyers] were getting big time help, because they were paying people who had the inside track. And, in turn, those people turned and around kicked millions to [former Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios] campaign and that was the pay-to-play system, but if we got rid of property taxes altogether, we wouldn’t have to worry about that.
So, you’re on the state’s Property Tax Relief Task Force?
Yes, a coalition I’m part of was appointed by Rep. Mary Flowers. We were at initial hearings downtown and we spoke at the hearing and Mary was so impressed that she tapped us to join her sub-committee and we put the best report that Springfield ever seen.
What’s your professional background?
I’m retired. I spent 29 years at Comcast. I was in the warehouse until they cut my throat. They terminated me, because I was considered a troublemaker — I supported unions.
On his self-education
Once I started going through this madness with Berrios and the [Cook County] Board of Review, and I saw how they played games with taxpayers I got fed up and I started doing my research and I became known as the “Tax Doctor.”
I pride myself on that. I learned one thing and that’s you have to study. You have to study. So that you can analyze this stuff. I was interviewed about maybe three or four weeks ago by a student from DePaul University. She took a class in school finance and she sent me an email and a text saying that her teacher, the professor, was so impressed by me that she would like for me to come and speak at some of her classes.
On a growing political apparatus
I’m in communication with different women who have organizations and I’ve asked them let’s put together a woman’s movement against property taxes, so a lot of these folks got this report, they’re reading it and a lot are agreeing with what’s in the report.