Are You Paying More Than Your Fair Share in Chicago Property Taxes?

Many Cook County property owners are paying more than their fair share in property taxes because of inaccurate assessments. Erroneous assumptions about property condition, commercial, industrial or residential usage, and how properties compare to other, similar properties in the area often result in the unfair distribution of tax burdens in Cook County.

It is estimated that only 5 percent of property owners appeal their tax bills but between 30 and 60 percent of properties nationwide are over-assessed. Property owners who do not appeal inaccurate tax bills are paying more than their share of the overall tax burden when the district’s tax rate is set and multiplied against the assessed value of their property.

To help ensure that they are only paying their fair share of property taxes, individuals and businesses should double-check the information the county used to determine their property values and file a property tax appeal if any of that information is incorrect.

What Information Should Homeowners Double-Check?

The property information will be listed on the Cook County Tax Assessor’s website by parcel number. The details to review include:

  • Total square footage
  • Property category
  • Room size information
  • Garage size information

If a home’s zoning has changed at all in the last year, such as a single-family home changing to one zoned for commercial use, that is something that could impact the tax bill.

When there are discrepancies in any of the above items, it is helpful to the property tax appeal if the documentation includes the dollar amount that error adds. For instance, if the tax assessor says a house has a three-car garage, but it’s actually a two-car garage, people should include Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value assessment to provide the dollar amount difference that makes in the home’s value.

PDF documents that show the value of at least five comparable properties should also be included.

If a property is in need of a major repair, that information also is important to include, along with the dollar amount value that would add to the home.

After filing the appeal correctly and on time, it could take several weeks or even months before an owner receives notice on whether the appeal was successful. A successful appeal can lower the property tax bill for subsequent years.

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