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What New Homeowners Should Know About the Assessment Process

By Gary Smith
05/18/2020
What New Homeowners Should Know About the Assessment Process

New homeowners rarely think about how the assessor’s office arrives at their taxes once they close on a home. But once the first tax bill comes in the mail, there might be some questions as to how that amount is determined.

What’s Behind the Numbers

First, the value of a home going up in an assessment doesn’t necessarily mean that the property taxes will be higher. There are numerous calculations that go into arriving at the property tax amount.

For homeowners that have moved from other states, it might be surprising to find out that there is no fixed property rate in Illinois. Instead, Illinois starts with a dollar amount, which is about $15 million this year, that is determined based on the dollars that the taxing bodies need to raise. These dollars are called levies, and they go to school districts, library districts, the county itself, etc. The levies are dollars that the individual entities can’t raise from other sources to meet their budget.

The assessment process is a way to divide the dollars required for the levies equitably among all property taxpayers. That’s why an assessment going up might not correlate to taxes going up. If all areas assessments go up about the same amount, the share of the levy for each property doesn’t change, so the taxes more than likely will not either.

There is currently a new residential model for assessment being used, one that looks to create more equity in the values of properties across all of Cook County. The formula is published on the Cook County Assessor’s website.

The Appeals Process

New homeowners should know that they do have the ability to appeal their property tax assessment but should be aware that there are deadlines specific to each township to do so.

Some reasons to appeal a residential property assessment include:

Incorrect information on property. This could include anything from the wrong Property Identification Number to the wrong number of bedrooms or bathrooms.

If there is damage to the property that was not considered, such as a leaking roof.

If the value assigned to the home is vastly higher than others in the neighborhood that are the same model, built in the same timeframe.

There is no penalty for filing an appeal that is turned down, and the process to appeal property tax in Cook County is straightforward and outlined on the assessor’s website.