Gary H. Smith
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You’re Doing It Wrong: Here’s the Right Way to Appeal Your Property Taxes in Illinois

By Gary Smith
You’re Doing It Wrong: Here’s the Right Way to Appeal Your Property Taxes in Illinois

As the government adds to the property tax burdens in Cook County, property owners—both residential and commercial—can ease that burden by appealing the property’s assessed value.

How the Appeals Process Works

When a property is misvalued in Cook County, it is up to the property owner to correct the record to lower the property tax.

To appeal an assessment, it’s important for the property owner to read the assessment letter thoroughly, as it contains information about deadlines to appeal the assessment. In addition, the back of the letter often has appeal procedures for the taxing agency’s appeal process.

That letter also will have a variety of information about the property. For instance, if this is a commercial property, is it correctly marked as commercial? If it’s a residential property, do they have key information correct, such as the number of bathrooms and fireplaces. For either commercial or residential, does it list the size of the lot correctly?

If any of the information is incorrect, taxpayers should visit the Cook County Assessor’s website and follow the steps listed to get the information corrected and a new assessment. However, it’s important to still pay any property tax bills received while the appeal is being processed. Appealing a property assessment doesn’t excuse a missed property tax bill.

If the information is correct, there are still options available to lower the properties’ valuation. Taxpayers should find three to five comparable properties that are truly comparable, meaning, same size, style, condition and location as the property whose value is being appealed. Property owners can check the assessments on those properties through the local government’s public database. Lack of uniformity is the most common basis of appeal of residential properties.

If the comparable properties are similar but have been valued lower, that is the basis of the appeal. If those properties are valued higher, there still might be a basis for appeal. The residential, commercial, industrial or apartment property may be overvalued based on marketplace conditions.  Valuation is the strongest basis of appeal. If it’s a commercial, industial or apartment property, are there vacancies or is the property in need of repair? Same for residential property—if the comparable property has been remodeled, a homeowner can show that is why the homes shouldn’t be valued the same.

Once armed with the necessary information, owners should make sure to read through the procedures and deadlines and then fill out the paperwork provided on the Cook County Assessor’s website.

If that appeal is denied, there is still the possibility of appealing to the Board of Review.