Gary H. Smith
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Property Tax Appeal FAQ: Here’s What You Need to Know

By Gary Smith
Property Tax Appeal FAQ: Here’s What You Need to Know

Understanding the answers to property tax FAQs can help lessen the tax burden for Cook County home and business owners.

What Are Property Taxes?

Also referred to as “ad valorem” taxes, property taxes are based on the value of property in Cook County. Every person who owns property must pay property taxes. The tax is imposed by local government taxing districts—such as a school district, park district, municipality or county, to name a few.

Property taxes are handled by the Cook County Assessor’s office on a two-year cycle. Year 1, the assessor determines the property’s value as of Jan. 1 of that year, and year 2, the tax bills are calculated and mailed, with payments distributed to the local taxing districts.

How Are the Values of Residential Properties Determined?

The estimated value of a residential property, which includes single-family homes, townhomes, condos and multi-family residential buildings with six units or less, is determined by analyzing sales information of similar homes.

What Are Reasons for which a Residential Property Owner Might Appeal?

Sometimes, homes similar in style, square footage and age are dissimilar in terms of space and condition. For instance, one home might have a finished basement, which would raise its property value. One might have a damaged roof in need of repair, which would lower its property value.

The Assessor often has seemingly unexplainable underlying variations of dollar per square foot values between similar homes that are not justified by any of the above.  Property assessments of similar homes of generally similar conditions should have similar equitable valuations.  Lack of uniformity is a constitutionally mandated basis of the appeal.

How  Are Appeals Handled for Commercial and Industrial Property Taxes?

Filing a commercial property or an industrial property tax appeal includes different steps because additional documents are needed, such as a Real Estate Valuation Appeal form, which must contain information about the property including the owner’s estimate of the current fair market value of the property and a brief description of the basis of alleged overassessment.

Other documents a commercial or industrial property owner might need to complete or submit include:

  • Property Summary Sheet
  • Owner/Lessee Verification Affidavit
  • Industrial/Commercial Sales Questionnaire (if the purchase was within the last three years)
  • Detailed Income and Expense data
  • Detailed rent roll information and pictures
  • Field Check Request
  • Appraisal Summary Sheet
  • Vacancy Affidavit

The last three items are only if applicable.

This paperwork can also be submitted through the Cook County Assessor’s website.

How Are Residential Property Tax Appeals Handled?

Once an assessment is received, the property owner has 30 days to file an appeal. In addition, the assessed valuation in any year between reassessments can be appealed when the property’s township is open for appeals. Those dates can be found on the Cook County Assessor’s website.

The appeals process is also completed through the Cook County Assessor’s website.