Property owners in Cook County could be paying double property taxes due to something called PIN slamming. In some cases, homeowners might even owe back taxes on these hidden PINs.
How to Read a PIN
Each parcel of land that is taxed receives a property index number or PIN. The PIN is a 14-digit number, broken down into groupings that describe something specific about the parcel of land. The first two numbers are the area number (for the township). The next two numbers are the subarea within that township. The next three numbers are the block number. The next three numbers are the specific parcel number. If the property is a condo or leasehold, the last four digits will be the unit number. Otherwise, the last four digits are zeroes
In the case of PIN slamming, a property straddles the line between two parcels, so it actually has more than one PIN assigned. However, when the house sells, the seller hides one PIN, so the new owner doesn’t realize they’re actually going to have to pay taxes on two parcels or PINs.
In some cases, the homeowner isn’t alerted to the existence of the second PIN until they receive a notice that the property is getting sold for back taxes on the second, unpaid PIN.
How can Homeowners Protect Themselves?
Part of any real-estate transaction is known as good faith negotiation, which is a duty to disclose. In the instance of the purchase of a bank foreclosure, the bank would have the duty to disclose that the property has two PINs.
It’s also helpful to look into the history of the neighborhood. For instance, in some neighborhoods, like Markham and Robbins, developers built homes sitting on two lots decades ago.
If the home purchase wasn’t through a foreclosure, the title company technically has the responsibility alert the buyer to the PINs involved in the transaction, but a real estate attorney handling a property closing can order a Plat of Survey to spot multiple PINs tied to the address.
Victims of PIN slamming can reach out to the Recorder of Deeds Office and its fraud prevention experts. Appealing the property tax assessment is also another avenue to get tax relief.