Property tax bills aren’t written in stone and can be appealed if the property owners feel the value assessed on the property is too high. This holds true for residential properties and commercial and industrial properties as well. It is estimated that 30 to 60 percent of properties are over-assessed, and only 5 percent of property owners challenge that assessment.
How to appeal a property tax
People who are considering filing an appeal should follow a few steps to get prepared. They should:
- Know the appeal deadline dates for the county and township
- Ensure that the county records have the correct information on the property
- Know the specifics of the property
- Know the value of at least five surrounding properties that are comparable
County records sometimes have the square footage of a property incorrect, or if it’s a residential property, the number of rooms or the condition of the exterior of the house. Most property values are assessed by using a calculation tool, not by someone visiting the property, so if there is a major repair needed, such as a roof replacement, that won’t be reflected in the estimated value. The value of the assessment for a residential property, for instance, is the fair market value of the home, which is the amount of money a person would pay to purchase that property.
The county assessor’s office website has instructions on how to appeal a property tax bill. The Cook County Assessor’s Office also has a tool to look up previous appeals and the status, by city, to gauge how successful previous challenges have been, as well as the amount the property tax bill has been reduced. Because there are so many factors involved with determining a fair assessment and regulations and guidelines that must be followed to appeal the current assessment, however, many Cook County homeowners and business owners seek property tax relief with the assistance of a property tax lawyer.
Once an appeal is filed, it can take months before a decision is made. If an appeal is rejected, it is still possible to appeal again the next year. If the appeal is successful, it is possible to lower the property tax bill by a few thousand dollars.