By Gary H. Smith
Chicago and Cook County Property Tax Appeal Attorney
Cook County first-installment property tax bills are in the mail this week (June 29, 2015). (Bills for the 2014 tax year are issued in 2015.) For many property owners, the bill has gone up.
When you wake up from your fainting spell, learn what you need to know about your tax bill.
1. You can lower your taxes by appealing your assessment
Taxes are based on a simple formula: Assessment x Multiplier (minus Exemption) x Tax Rate.
Which factors in that equation can be appealed?
The multiplier is a county-wide number applied the same to all properties in Cook County. For all practical purposes, the multiplier is NOT APPEALABLE.
The tax rate is the same number applied to all properties in your taxing district. In a practical sense it is appealable but would not have a significant effect for the individual property. From a cost-effective standpoint for most properties, the tax rate is NOT APPEALABLE.
The assessment is the taxable value of your property, as determined by the Assessor. It is our job to affect his determination. If you can convince the county to lower your assessment, you lower your taxes. So, why does the simple formula matter? Because THE ASSESSMENT IS APPEALABLE.
2. Check your exemptions
If you live in Cook County (as your residence), you are entitled to a homeowners exemption. If you are over 65, you are entitled to a Senior Citizen Exemption.
There are very specific Disability Exemptions, Veterans Exemptions and more. Each of these could save you money.
Check your tax bill. If the exemptions are not listed, you don’t have them. You need to get them.
3. There is a reason your taxes are higher
There could be several reasons that your tax bill is higher than last year’s.
- Your assessment may have gone up. If so, the property may be overvalued by the Cook County Assessor. We can help.
- Your tax rate may be higher. Even if your assessment stayed the same, the taxing bodies may have requested more money for their operations. Every increase in a taxing body’s request can affect your taxes. That is why it is so critical that you get your property assessment as low as possible.
- The multiplier is higher. The Cook County multiplier increased 2.37 percent from last year.
4. It’s too late to appeal last year’s assessment
Your taxes are paid in arrears. It is, for most practical purposes, too late to object to the 2014 value of your property.
The time is now to focus on your 2015 value. Your appeal in 2015 will impact the tax you pay in 2016. Although it seems like a long wait, don’t try to time the market.
If you procrastinate, you’ll likely miss next year’s tax-saving opportunity.
5. Bonus Point: We can help
With many years of experience obtaining property tax abatement and relief for Chicago and Cook County property owners, we can file an assessment appeal for you, ensuring that you will pay your fair share of property taxes, and no more.