Inaccurate property tax assessments can have a substantial impact on an entire community, sometimes leading to overpriced property listings for buyers and sellers, unfair distribution of the tax burden in Cook County, and higher tax costs that are often passed on to local consumers, renters and even retailers.
Why Homeowners Should Appeal
Cook County property taxes are based on the tax rate of the county plus the assessed value of each property taxed. Assessments begin with a review of the values of comparable properties within the area. Similar types of properties with similar characteristics play a major role. If a neighboring property just had upgrades made and a permit was pulled, for example, the tax assessor’s office can access that information and might then apply the valuation to similar properties within the area. And if other properties are in need of major repairs or have not had upgrades completed and the assessor is unaware of their true condition, those properties would likely be overassessed. When nobody appeals these inaccuracies, the entire community can end up with higher tax bills.
High property taxes don’t just impact property owners who receive their tax bills. Inaccurate valuations also impact renters because landlords may be forced to charge higher rents. For commercial and industrial properties, the additional tax costs are even passed on to area consumers when entities must raise their prices to help cover higher property taxes or the increased rents that might result.
Higher tax bills can also make it harder to sell a home or commercial property in the neighborhood. Many property owners decide not to contest their property tax bills because of a common misconception that the higher valuation is a positive factor if they decide to put the property on the market. A potential buyer would likely find a lower property tax bill attractive, however, and may be more inclined to pay the asking price or make a healthier offer.
In Cook County, the Tax Assessor’s Office expects property owners to appeal their property taxes. If a property is impacted by the improvements made by neighbors, an owner can file an appeal, along with supporting documentation, including the details and property values of five similar properties that were not improved, to get the tax bill reduced.