The Cook County Assessor’s office values commercial properties using several factors, including how many parcels a property contains, the location, the vacancy rates, and the property’s use. If a building owner doesn’t agree with the assessment, the property owner can appeal the assessment, which is the basis for the property taxes, to both the Assessor’s office and the Cook County Board of Review.
How Commercial Properties are Identified
Commercial properties in Cook County are assessed by parcel, which is identified by a Property Index Number, or PIN. Each of these parcels receives its own tax bill.
Within a commercial property, there can be more than one parcel taxed. For instance, a property might contain offices, retail stores, and a parking garage. These may be on a single PIN or divided among multiple PINs. In the case of multiple PINs, the building is usually valued as a whole and that total gets divided by a percentage for each PIN.
First-Pass Assessment is a Starting Point
The first-pass assessment is the Assessor’s best estimate of what properties would be sold for on the market. The Assessor should use market data such as rents and vacancies and apply those to properties based on square footage, location, and use.
The first-pass assessment will be the basis used to determine the dollar amount on a commercial property’s tax bill if it is not reduced by a successful appeal. If a building owner doesn’t agree with this amount, i.e. the building is in need of major repairs that weren’t taken into consideration, an appeal can be filed with the Assessor’s office. The building owner can hire an attorney who may develop an argument against the first-pass assessment, and may recommend the commercial owner obtain an appraisal. After the appeal, the Assessor issues a second-pass assessment lowering the value or leaving it as originally proposed.
Regardless of what the Assessor decides, a commercial property owner can still appeal to the Cook County Board of Review. This elected three-person panel also hears appeals and can further lower an assessment even if it’s already been lowered by the Assessor’s office. An attorney may also determine further appeal may be appropriate to the Circuit Court or the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB).
In Cook County, commercial and industrial building owners who don’t appeal are often paying a significantly higher tax bill than they should, based on the arguments an attorney presents in a successful appeal.