New Study Calls Into Question Chicago's Extensive Use of TIFs

Chicago is America's undisputed leader in using tax increment financing (TIF) to spur economic development. But what is the city getting in exchange for its efforts to fight blight? A new paper says: Not much.

TIFs have recently been attacked as serving the Chicago's affluent residents, to the detriment of poor and middle-class Chicagoans, and for bearing some responsibility for the city's piecemeal planning. Do these instruments benefit the city, or merely the Chicago's politicians and patricians? A new study aims to answer this question.

"The critical question about tax-increment financing is simple: 'but-for.' If neighborhood, employment, and economic development would not happen but for the existence of TIF districts, proponents have a very good case," explains Whet Moser. 

"But for is a difficult calculation. So it doesn’t happen very often," he adds. "But T. William Lester, an assistant professor at UNC-Chapel Hill who studied under TIF maven Laura Rachael Weber at the University of Illinois-Chicago, designed a but-for test for Chicago, for an article in Urban Studies."

"The verdict? TIFs fail the but-for test on a number of levels. That doesn’t mean that individual TIFs don’t create jobs, but 'Chicago’s use of TIF has not resulted in positive net employment benefits for city residents.'"

Full Story: Do TIFs Create More Jobs? New Study: ‘No’

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
poster

A Short History of America

From comic book artist Robert Crumb, poster shows how the built environment has changed throughout the decades.
$14.95
Book cover of Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Featuring thought-provoking commentary and insights from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field.
$18.95