Gary H. Smith
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Here’s How Your Estimated Property Tax Bill Is Calculated

By Gary Smith
12/19/2019
Here’s How Your Estimated Property Tax Bill Is Calculated

There is a lot of work behind the scenes that goes into how each property tax bill is calculated. For one portion of the county, this will be the first bill under the new assessment system introduced by Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi.

What Do the Numbers Mean?

The property tax bill starts with two processes happening at the same time: Communities setting their budgets and the Cook County Assessor’s Office determining Fair Market Values, assessed values, and exemptions. Those are all combined with the state equalizer to calculate the property’s taxable value.

The purpose of a state equalizer is to make property tax rates roughly equal across all Illinois counties. This number is generally released in June, impacting the previous year’s tax bill.

Property taxes fund a variety of services in each community, including libraries, water, reclamation, mosquito abatement, and schools.

These numbers—the community budgets and the taxable value—then go to the Cook County Clerk, who balances the community budget needs with the taxable value of the whole community, to determine the local tax rate.

The tax bill each property receives is the tax rate applied to the property’s taxable value.

Appealing the Property Tax Bill

The Cook County Assessor’s office’s only role in the tax bill is to determine the market value of the property. That office does not set tax rates or levies or decide the final dollar amount of the bill.

However, because that office determines the property’s market value, that is also the office that handles the appeal process to lower property taxes.

The main reason property owners appeal tax bills is the features of the property on the reassessment notices are wrong. In addition, people should ensure that paperwork is filled out correctly for exemptions available for the property.

There are other reasons property owners might want to appeal the assessed value on the home even if all the information is correct and the applicable exemptions are represented on the bill. Sometimes, the property value of the home has been calculated incorrectly by the assessor’s office. In that case, a property owner would need to gather some information on comparables for properties that are similar in age, size and condition and submit that along with the appeal paperwork.