Gary H. Smith
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Cook County Property Tax Bills Show Increases

By Gary Smith
Cook County Property Tax Bills Show Increases

The recent property reassessments in Cook County, under a new assessment process, have increased property values and the overall property tax bills.

New Assessment Process Raises Overall Property Bills

In 2019, when properties in the northern region of Cook County were reassessed, many communities saw a significant increase. In Evanston, for instance, the 2018 the equalized assessed value, or EAV, was $2.7 billion. In 2019, the EAV increased to $4.5 billion.

At the time, residential and commercial property owners were told their overall tax bills shouldn’t change much. For residential properties, officials pointed to the reduction in the overall rate, that those property tax bills might decrease. This was based on the assumption that the levies of other taxing bodies would not change.

When the second installment bills were sent out, residents were surprised with the amount due to cover the rest of the 2019 taxes.

Property owners cannot appeal the tax bill, only the property assessment in the timeframe provided when assessments go out—each town has its own appeal dates. However, property owners should double-check to make sure all the information on the tax bill is tied to the correct property and if there are any errors, they only need to pay the correct amount.

This year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, property owners have until Oct. 1 to pay the full second installment without any late fees or penalties.

Property owners should also make sure to take advantage of any exemptions for which the property qualifies, which would also decrease the overall tax bill.

Some of the property tax exemptions for which a property might qualify include:

  • Homeowners exemption
  • Senior exemption
  • Veteran exemption
  • Persons with disabilities exemption
  • Long-time homeowner exemption
  • Home improvement exemption

In addition, if a property already had an exemption the prior year that was not applied to the second installment property bill, property owners can apply for a refund or corrected bill.

Appeals Process Key to Lowering Property Tax Bill

Property owners should pay special attention to their assessments when they receive them in the spring, especially if it’s a year their region of Cook County is going through the reassessment process, which might have increased the property’s value. It’s at that time that property owners can appeal the assessment, either based on incorrect information for the property or based on the property values of similar homes in the area.