Property Description Errors Could Raise Your Tax Bill

It is important for Cook County property owners to carefully review their property descriptions because some types of errors may lead to higher property taxes. Residential property owners are fortunate; they have the ability to see mistakes in their property descriptions by reviewing the characteristics listings that are included with their reassessment notices.

However, owners of commercial properties, industrial properties, business properties, apartment buildings of greater than 6 units and condominiums are not so fortunate. Assessment notices for these types of properties do not contain a property description with the assessment notice. The description may only be found by way of a cumbersome freedom of information request, or by review of the information contained in a paid subscription database.

Residential property owners in Cook County should carefully review the property descriptions that are contained in the assessments they receive in the mail because certain types of errors may result in higher taxes. They should look for outdated property information and inaccuracies about square footage, the number of rooms, or improvements. Other description errors that might lead to inflated property tax bills include inaccurate classifications that affect the tax bill and mistakes about the property condition.

If assessments contain description errors, property owners should consider filing an appeal to correct the error. Not all errors substantially affect values, but filing an appeal may result in a correction of the mistakes and a corresponding reduction in property taxes imposed.

Commercial, industrial, business, and apartment building owners can verify the descriptions of their properties with their attorneys by check the Assessor’s records, either online or by FOI request.

Common Description Errors

To assess the value of commercial and residential properties, the Cook County Assessor’s Office uses a complicated computer program that takes into account a number of different factors. Some of these factors include the square footage of the properties, the size of their lots, whether they are zoned as commercial or residential, improvements that have been made, the condition of the properties, and the sales prices of other properties in the area. It is common for these assessments to contain errors in at least one of these categories. If errors exist, property owners may face higher tax bills.

How to Handle Property Description Errors

Residential property owners who identify mistakes on their property descriptions should consider appealing their assessments when the appeal filing period opens for their townships. All commercial property owners should consider conducting, or having an attorney conduct, a review audit of their records as held by the Assessor. Correcting property description mistakes may result in lower tax bills for years to come, and many property owners can save thousands of dollars in property taxes.

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