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How To File a Property Tax Appeal

By Gary Smith
12/10/2021
How To File a Property Tax Appeal

As the calendar turns to a new year, that means a new tax return bill will soon be in the mail. For property owners who think their tax bills are too high, that means they will be thinking of whether to appeal. Here’s how to handle a property tax appeal in Cook County.

What Are Reasons to File an Appeal?

It’s recommended to hire a property tax attorney to handle a property tax appeal, but many property owners prefer to handle it themselves. The first thing a property owner should do is determine which township the property falls into, which can be found on the top right of the property tax bill. Homeowners can also visit the Cook County Assessor’s website and enter the Property Identification Number, or PIN. The township is important because each is assigned different deadlines for the appeals process for both the Cook County Assessor and the Board of Review.

An appeal is an easy decision if there is incorrect information on the property tax assessment, such as incorrect PIN, square footage, number of rooms, etc. If all the information is correct, there are still other avenues for taxpayers to pursue, including:

  • Comparable sales
  • Lack of uniformity
  • Economic value

To appeal on the basis of comparable sales means that the property is overvalued compared to similar properties. This argument uses the recent sales process of comparable properties—those similar in square footage, lot size, location, construction type, etc.—to show that the value set on the property is greater than the value determined by actual sales. If the property was recently appraised, this, too, could be used as evidence of the property’s value in connection with an appeal.

The Illinois Constitution requires that taxes upon real estate property shall be levied uniformly by valuation. Although this is similar to comparable sales, property owners must find properties that are even more similar, such as the type of construction pr year built, because otherwise variations between the two properties can negate the uniformity argument.

The final reason, the economic value argument, is reserved for income-producing properties, including multifamily dwellings. To file an appeal based on economic value, a property owner will need to share several years of income and expense information in connection with the appeal.