Utility Tax FAQ

Why is the City Adding this Tax?

  • The Chicago City Council and Mayor Emanuel approved a four-year phase-in of a water and sewer utility tax.  The revenue from this tax will be used to make certain mandated pension payments.
  • These mandated pension payments will support the retirements of many municipal employees, including our snow plow drivers, our librarians, and CPS non-teaching staff, such as classroom aides.

When will the tax appear on my water-sewer bill? Will the water-sewer tax impact my billing cycle?

  • The water-sewer tax will appear on utility bills beginning in March 2017 with tax charges starting to accrue that same month.
  • Utility accounts will be billed at the same frequency and on the same schedule as their current unified utility billing cycle. 

I’m a metered account. What will I be charged?

  • Properties with a water meter are billed based on the amount of water used in the billing period.  The current water rate for metered accounts is $29.04 per 1,000 cubic feet or approximately $3.88 per 1,000 gallons.
  • Sewer charges are 100 percent of water charges.
  • The water-sewer tax is charged based on consumption.
  • The tax will be phased-in over four years, starting in March 2017 through 2020 and stay at the same tax rate in 2021.
  • Beginning in March 2017, the water-sewer tax will be assessed at a rate of $.295 per 1,000 gallons of water and $.295 per 1,000 gallons of sewer or a total of $.59 per 1,000 gallons of water-sewer us

Rate per 1,000 gallons (approximately)

YEAR TAX ON WATER PORTION TAX ON SEWER PORTION TOTAL TAX (WATER & SEWER) Y-O-Y TAX RATE INCREASE
2017 $.295 $.295 $.59 7.7%
2018 $.64 $.64 $1.28 8.4%
2019 $1.005 $1.005 $2.01 8.2%
2020 $1.255 $1.255 $2.51 5.2%
2021 $1.255 $1.255 $2.51 0.0%

I’m a metered account and part of the MeterSave program.  What will happen to my bill if I go above my Metersave cap?  Will the tax be charged on the total water and sewer use or just what I am billed for?

  • I’m a metered account and part of the MeterSave program. What will happen to my bill if I go above my MeterSave cap? Will the tax be charged on the total water/sewer use or just what I am billed for? 
  • For MeterSave residences, the water-sewer tax will only be assessed on the amount of water-sewer for which you are billed, not your total usage.

I’m a non-metered account. What will I be charged?

  • Per the Municipal Code of Chicago, water usage is assessed based on factors including building size, lot size and other fixtures -- such as sinks, toilets, etc. The water charge is calculated by assuming usage based on these factors.
  • Sewer charges are 100 percent of water charges.
  • Non-metered properties are charged the water-sewer tax based on the same method used to calculate water and sewer charges.
  • The tax will be phased-in over four years, starting in March 2017 through 2020, and stay the same tax rate in 2021.
  • Beginning in March 2017, the water-sewer tax will be assessed at a rate of $.295 per 1,000 gallons of water $.295 per 1,000 gallons of sewer or a total of $.59 per 1,000 gallons of water-sewer use. 

 

Rate per 1,000 gallons (approximately)

YEAR TAX ON WATER PORTION TAX ON SEWER PORTION TOTAL TAX (WATER & SEWER) Y-O-Y TAX RATE INCREASE

2017

$.295 $.295 $.59 7.7%
2018 $.64 $.64 $1.28 8.4%
2019 $1.005 $1.005 $2.01 8.2%
2020 $1.255 $1.255 $2.51 5.2%
2021 $1.255 $1.255 $2.51 0.0%

 

I’m a non-metered account. How do I sign up for a meter?

  • Chicago’s MeterSave program installs residential water meters free of charge to promote water conservation and save customers as much as 40 percent on their water and sewer costs. 
  • Homeowners participating in MeterSave are eligible for seven-year guarantee that their home water bill will be no higher than it would have been if the meter had not been installed. 
  • To learn more about the program, call 3-1-1 or visit www.metersave.org.

I’m a senior. Will I receive any reduction in the tax?

  • Seniors who receive the senior citizen sewer exemption (senior who live in their own home and are individually metered) will continue to receive the exemption.
  • This exemption reduces eligible senior's total water and sewer bill by 50 percent by removing sewer charges.
  • With this exemption, senior will also see a 50 percent reduction in the tax on water-sewer usage as the tax will only be charged to the water portion of a seniors bill.

What happens if I do not pay the water-sewer tax?

  • A penalty accrues at a rate of 1.25 percent per month on late balances, including tax charges.
  • A property owner may have their water shut off for failure to pay their unified utility bill after mulitple notifications.
  • There are multiple payment plan options for residents to pay their utility bills. To learn more about the payment plan options, visit: Utility Bill Payment Plans

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