Gary H. Smith
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Reduce Your Tax Bill: Is Your Cook County Property in a Flood Plain?

By Gary Smith
Reduce Your Tax Bill: Is Your Cook County Property in a Flood Plain?

There are a variety of considerations that go into creating a property tax assessment within Cook County, and starting this year, there is now a few more, including floodplain data produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.

Floodplains Impact Sale Value

Floodplains are areas near a body of water have a higher risk of flooding. This does not mean that a home was flooded recently or even at all. The Cook County Assessor’s Office conducted sales analysis in the area around New Trier and determined that properties in a floodplain are 30 percent less valuable relative to other areas. The office added this data into the valuation model last July as something that impacts property value.

This does not mean that all properties in floodplains are 30 percent less valuable; the Cook County Assessor’s Office is currently looking at the data for all areas in floodplains.

Originally, Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi was offering a “certificate of correction” and possible reimbursement of some property tax assessment to approximately 1,100 homeowners on an identified floodplain in New Trier Township. However, the Board of Review refused to process that amount of corrections and instead preferred it to be sorted out through the appeals process.

In addition to the floodplain data, other data points have been added to the valuation process, including air traffic noise and proximity to a major highway.

There were already various other assessment factors in the model that can reduce property’s assessed value, including:

  • Damage
  • Agricultural exemptions
  • Fire damage
  • Vacancy
  • Uninhabitable homes

Property Tax Appeals

The best way to ensure that the taxes being paid on a property are correct is to appeal the property tax bill when it seems out of line with the rest of the neighborhood. Homeowners can search neighboring homes by address on the Cook County Treasurer’s website to ensure the tax assessments for their property are in line with the rest of the neighborhood.

When filing an appeal, make sure to use properties similar in age, size, and condition as the property that’s being appealed.

The most common reasons for an unsuccessful appeal are that the property owner didn’t follow the directions, use the proper forms, fill out the forms in its entirety or pay attention to the deadline for their township. There are 38 townships, and each has its own deadline.