As Cook County residents get hit by the one-two punch of a new property tax assessment system coupled with rising real estate prices, they should consider appealing their property assessments to ensure that the taxes they pay align with the value of their properties.
Tax Appeal Steps
Former Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios often said that the Cook County tax assessment system depends upon property owners appealing their assessments to better align property tax payments with the actual value. For owners that have never appealed their assessments, this could mean that, even with the new system in place, the assessed value is still off-base.
A property might be misvalued for a number of reasons, including homes that are misclassified as a commercial property, the wrong number of bedrooms or bathrooms, or improvements that haven’t been made.
First, property owners should review the tax record for their properties by looking online at the Assessor website. In addition to the above issues, other items to look at include:
- Is the square footage correct and is it located on the correct lot?
- Is the age of the property correct?
- Is the purchase price correct?
- Are there defects in the property that are not listed? Perhaps a leaky basement or a leaky roof?
- Does the statement apply the tax benefits the owners qualify for, such as income, age, disability or military service discounts?
If there are errors in the record, owners should appeal the assessment so the record can be fixed and the taxable value adjusted.
Even if the information is correct, an owner can still appeal the assessed value.
The assessed values of similar properties should be reviewed. A look at the tax records for properties in the neighborhood that have the same amount of square footage, same features, and were built the same year will provide that information.
In addition, if an owner feels there are major repairs they would need to make to sell the property, photos and a list of those items should be included with the comparable property value information.
The Cook County Assessor’s website will have instructions on how to provide this information to appeal a property’s assessment.
If the first appeal is not successful, there is still the Cook County Board of Review that reviews appeals as well, so property owners should keep trying.