Gary Smith
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Why Should You Appeal Your Cook County Property Taxes?

By Gary H. Smith
10/01/2014
Why Should You Appeal Your Cook County Property Taxes?

By Gary H. Smith
Chicago and Cook County Property Tax Appeal Attorney

“My property taxes are too high.”

That’s the refrain I hear from new clients like you virtually every day. I will file an appeal on your behalf that likely will result in a lower tax burden.

The Cook County real estate assessment and tax system is very complicated. Here are some of questions frequently asked by my clients:

What is an assessment?

The assessment is an estimate of the value of your property. Your property’s assessed valuation is only one of several factors that ultimately determine the amount of your tax bill.

The Cook County Assessor, an elected position, determines the value of your property. Such factors as the size, condition, location, commercial or industrial use, rental condition, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms figure into the assessment. If you have improved or expanded the property recently, that could result in a higher assessed valuation. Conversely, if the property is under stress, or if rental units are vacant, your assessment should go down.

(Appeals for tax relief based on condition of your property, including vacancy, damage, classification and more require special handling. Please contact me for assistance.)

My assessment changed for no apparent reason. What happened?

You need to carefully review your assessment notice every time you receive it. Here’s why:

Under Illinois state law, the Cook County Assessor is required to update the estimated property value and assessed valuation of your property for real estate tax purposes. For properties in Cook County, there is a general reassessment every three years.

Assessments may be adjusted due to individual circumstances that the assessor is aware of at your property, or merely general market conditions. The Assessor may have site-visited your property and made changes to his records, adjusted your property’s assessment in a differential relationship to others as a “catch-up” event, or simply made mathematical adjustments due to market or record-keeping circumstances.

You may not know why these changes were made; your attorney should be able to effectively determine what happened.

Should I consider filing an appeal?

The Assessor’s Office says you should consider filing an appeal if you think your new proposed assessed valuation is too high compared to similar properties in your area or if you believe that there is an error in the description of your property.

What the Assessor’s Office does not make clear is that there are many other possible reasons to file an appeal. You should consider filing an appeal whenever you think the Assessor has overvalued your property:

  • Individual circumstances may cause your property to be overvalued.
  • General market conditions may make you believe your property is overvalued.
  • Your perception of fairness is a solid reason to file an appeal.

Whenever you think your taxes are too high, you should contact me.

For example, if you own an apartment building with retail space on the ground level, the Assessor’s Office may not be aware that the street in front of your building has been under construction for a year. These are the types of conditions that I take into consideration when filing an appeal.

How can I fight my assessment?

As a Chicago attorney who is an expert in the Cook County property tax system, I will find an appeal on your behalf. I will ensure that the county has the most current and accurate information about your property and I will show comparisons with similar properties.

If I am not satisfied with the assessment from the Assessor’s Office, we will file to all levels of appeal until your property is properly assessed, including the Cook County Board of Review, the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board and the Circuit Court of Cook County.

The Law Offices of Gary H. Smith can help you successfully navigate the Chicago and Cook County tax appeals process. Contact me today to get started.

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