The Myth About Qualifying for Mortgage Refinancing
It’s a common misconception that homeowners must have exemplary credit scores to qualify for a new loan or to refinance an existing mortgage, but this is far from the truth. Homeowners who hold an existing mortgage are – in most cases – eligible to refinance their current loan.
Unless you have experienced a significant decrease in your credit score, are recently unemployed, or have had another major life change, you should easily qualify for mortgage refinancing. For homeowners with extenuating circumstances, there are still options available for decreasing or temporarily pausing your mortgage payments.
No “Silver Bullet” for Property Tax Relief in Illinois
Created by the General Assembly in the summer of 2019 to address an “opaque” and unpopular system that has left Illinois with the second highest tax rate in the country, a property tax relief task force recommended a four-part, decade-long attack.
The group’s recommendations – summarized in a draft report included as part of a study Treasurer Maria Pappas released documenting the 20-year climb of Cook County property taxes – illustrate the difficulty of revamping a tax system built around the funding needs of 6,968 separate taxing districts. That’s more than any other state in the country by a margin of 2,000, according to U.S. Census Bureau data cited in the report. Second-place Pennsylvania has nearly 5,000.
Consolidating such government units is at the heart of the recommendations made by the 88-member legislative task force, which held dozens of hearings around the state over a five-month period in 2019.
Error Leaves Some Thornton, Proviso Homeowners Waiting for COVID Adjustments
Some homeowners in Thornton and Proviso Townships will have to wait a little longer to learn how next year’s property tax bill will be impacted by the Cook County Assessor’s adjustment for COVID-19 hardships.
That’s because a processing error left some properties out when the office was applying COVID adjustments to the property tax assessment in those townships, according to a press release. The error does not affect this year’s tax bill because the adjustments will be factored in assessed values used to calculate next year’s property tax bills.
Do Your Own Cook County Property Tax Appeals in 6 Steps
When payments of your Cook County property are due, there’s nothing you can do to lower them. However, there is a way to lower them next year by hundreds or even thousands of dollars for next year’s payments: appealing this year.
We recommend appealing your assessment every year to be sure that you are not paying more than your fair share of property taxes, but do you hire an expert or do it yourself?
Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of hiring an expert vs. DIY, and tips for doing it right if you do it yourself.
Understanding the Factors That Determine the Size of Your Property Tax Bill
When you open your property tax bill, it’s easy to see if you’re going to be paying more, but the reasons why can be harder to understand.
Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough offers a brief explanation in a recent release accompanying the 2019 tax rates. The release includes the “four most impactful factors” that determine whether an individual property tax bill goes up or down. The bad news is, they’re going up in a lot of cases. But every tax bill is a collection of individual components.
Here are the four factors that determine the size of your tax bill, followed by some explanation around what you can (and can’t) do about them:
What Is Equalized Assessed Value (EAV)?
The Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) of your property is the product of the assessed value of your property (both land and improvements) and the State Equalization Factor, which is set by the Illinois Department of Revenue.
How Is EAV Calculated?
In Illinois, counties are required to “equalize” property tax assessments so that the median level of assessment is at 33% of fair market value. If the average sales price in the overall market is either higher or lower than 33% of assessed values, the prior assessed values will be increased or decreased by a factor that corrects this. Because Cook County assesses residential property at 10% of fair market value, rather than the 33% required by state law, Cook County’s equalization factor can approach 3 while that of other counties are typically closer to 1.0. The equalization factor is then multiplied by your property’s assessed value to determine its EAV.
Cook County EAV Example
The Cook County Assessor’s Office calculates the EAV of your property by taking the market value of your home, multiplying it against the County’s property tax assessment ratio (10%) and then multiplying that against the equalization factor (2.9706 in 2011 for example). The resulting EAV is the taxable value of your property, minus exemptions.
For example, if the market value of your home is $250,000, you multiply that by 10% for an assessed value of 25,000 and then by 2.9706 to get an EAV of $74,265.
Why Is EAV Needed?
EAV is part of an approach to taxation and property assessment which is supposed to ensure fairness to the taxpayers throughout the state of Illinois. EAV is also used in attempting to equitably set and distribute state grants-in-aid and applying tax rate and bonded indebtedness restrictions fairly.
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How to Determine Your Cook County Township
When appealing your property taxes, you first need to identify in what township you live.
This may be straightforward if you live in Evanston or Oak Park, but where is Bloom, Bremen, Lake, and South Chicago? These latter examples do not relate to a particular suburb or Chicago neighborhood.
There are four ways to determine in what Cook County township you live:
- Check your property tax bill (top right) – get a copy mailed to you here
- Call the Cook County Assessor’s Office at (312) 443-7550
- Visit the Cook County Assessor’s Office website and enter your PIN or address
- View the township table below
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Below is a Cook County township map, followed by boundaries for each township.
Cook County Townships & Boundaries
How to Appeal Your Property Taxes: 3 Approaches
If you feel like you’re paying too much in property taxes – and who doesn’t – you can submit a property tax appeal to the assessor’s office and, in the case of Cook County, also to the Board of Review.
If you have the time and are effective, you may get a reduction to your assessed value which will reduce your property’s future property tax bills. To do so, you need to prove that your property is worth less than the value set by the assessor. The following are three approaches to proving a case in Cook County.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Your Property Taxes?
In Chicago and throughout Cook County, many homeowners are struggling to pay their ever increasing property taxes, especially those seniors on fixed incomes and disabled individuals, as well as longtime residents of neighborhoods undergoing gentrification. More affluent homeowners may also despair of paying property tax bills that can approach six figures on high-end properties in exclusive communities.
Property Tax Reductions Based on Vacancy: Fire & Construction
Did you know that it’s possible to get a property tax reduction if your home is vacant for an extended period of time?
It’s true, and you can also appeal based on a lack of occupancy if it happened within the last three years. Here’s how it works.