Democratizing Tax Increment Financing Funds through Participatory Budgeting

REPORT AUTHORS: • Cecile Carroll • Thea Crum • Carolina Gaete • Maria Hadden • Rachel Weber


Tax Increment Financing is a public financing method that uses taxpayers’ money for community-improvement projects. The process is typically conducted without any taxpayer involvement. In order to make the process more community-driven and transparent, we have created a free, downloadable PB TIF Toolkit which can serve as a guide for using Participatory Budgeting to allocate TIF funds.

This Toolkit will provide you with working knowledge of TIFs and how they’re used in cities across the US with a case study from Chicago. By following the popular education practices described inside, you will be able to bring the voices of your community into the TIF process.

The Toolkit includes the following:

1.Basic information on the mechanics of TIF and PB in Chicago and in other cities in the U.S.;

2.A case study of community organization Blocks Together’s use of PB to decide on spending priorities for the Chicago/Central Park TIF District in West Humboldt Park;

3.Advice on how community residents can research past TIF allocations in their neighborhoods in order to determine neighborhood spending priorities.

This PB TIF Toolkit provides valuable information for organizations and residents interested in maximizing the community benefits from TIF through more participatory decision-making processes. The Toolkit will help community groups make a strong case to their political representatives and access funds to meet local needs.