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Tom Tresser: 'TIF Illumination' Shines Light on Dubious Economic Development Tool

August 7, 2014

All around the country, municipal governments have been using tax increment financing. It's supposed to be used to redevelop blighted areas, it's often used as a political slush fund to hand tax money to politically connected real estate developers and property owners in areas that no reasonable person would consider blighted. With one-third of its land in TIF districts, Chicago could be the poster child for TIF. This high-tax, financially troubled city has $1.7 billion sitting in TIF accounts, says Tom Tresser of the CivicLab's TIF Illumination Project. He discusses Chicago's TIF districts and the implications for the city's taxpayers. Much of what he says applies to TIFs elsewhere.