Property taxes are the second biggest expense owners of real estate face, after mortgage servicing. Fortunately, property owners have the ability to reduce this cost by appealing their property tax bill. This article explains how in four steps.
1. Check if you are overassessed
Your property assessment is the key factor that determines how much you pay in property taxes, because that is the value the property tax rate is applied to. The lower your assessment, the lower your property tax bill.
There are two easy ways to determine if you are overassessed. The first requires you to look at how much properties similar to yours are assessed. If a property that is identical to yours is assessed at a lower amount than yours, it's a good indicator you are over assessed. The second requires you to look at how much similar properties to yours were sold for. If the true market price is lower than the assessment, your property could be overvalued by the assessor.
2. Get the information you need to appeal
If you are confident your property is overassessed, you need to collect some additional information that is specific to your property. First, you need to figure out which of the 38 townships in Cook County your property is in. Once this is determined, check on the Cook County website when your township's appeal period opens. This information will let you know what the deadline is for submitting your appeal.
3. Determine what type of appeal to submit.
There are three types of appeals you can submit: comparable sales, lack of uniformity or economic value.
Comparable sales requires you to submit evidence that similar properties have been sold for less than your assessment.
Lack of uniformity requires you to submit evidence that similar properties are being assessed differently.
Economic value requires you to submit three years of income and expense information, but this type of appeal only applies to income producing properties.
4. Submit and wait
After you have gathered your evidence, submit it to the Cook County Assessor's Office. It's critical that you review all of the applicable appeal rules prior to submission, because failure to comply can result in an appeal denial.
Depending on the appeal backlog, it can take several weeks or months for the Assessor's Office to provide you with a decision.Property Taxes Cook County
The Cook County Assessor's office has published the by-township residential property tax appeal deadlines for 2019.
Please note, this table may not be updated as frequently as the assessor's office webpage.
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The most common misconception we encounter at taxProper involves two key definitions in the property tax business: assessed value and tax rate. For many, the two concepts are interchangeable and homeowners think of them in the same way. But understanding the difference between the two is key to understanding a property tax appeal.
Assessed value is the value that the County Assessor values your home at. For residential properties, this value comes from a software program known as Computerized Mass Appraisal (CAMA). The Assessor reviews all of the different data points collected on homes and compares them to recently sold properties that have similar data points. In other words, a software automatically determines the value of your home every assessment cycle.
Taxes rates, on the other hand, are dependent on the policies of local governments. All of the local government units that have taxing authority individually decide how much money they want to raise through property taxes. This is known as the levy. The levies are then added up to get the total levy applied to the jurisdiction. Tax rates are determined through simple division, adding up the total value of all property and dividing it by levy.
A property tax appeal does not appeal the levy or the tax rate calculated — which are questions of governmental policy. Instead, a property tax appeal contests the assessed value determined by the Assessor. A well crafted appeal will provide compelling evidence that the value set by the Assessor is incorrect, and, if it is successful, the appeal reduces the assessed home value.
Because the property tax rate is applied to the assessed value of the home, a reduction in assessed value corresponds with a reduction in property taxes.