Property Tax Appeals: How Businesses Shift Costs to Homeowners
In the September issue Chicago Lawyer, Roy Strom wrote a good article about Cook County property tax appeals, entitled The Assessment Squeeze: Lawyers are busier than ever appealing property assessments. The article covers how well-represented businesses shift more of the property tax cost burden on homeowners that do not appeal.
Cook County Property Tax Appeals by the Numbers
- 38 townships in Cook County: each has its own deadline for an appeal at both the county Assessor’s Office and Board of Review
- 1.8 million: parcels of land in Cook County
- 403,000: total number of property tax appeal reviews made by the 125 employees at the Board of Review last year, which costs them (us) $8.5 million to do (65% are successful)
- $94 million: estimate of legal fees paid to Cook County lawyers to appeal property taxes, much of which was spent to reduce commercial property taxes
When Businesses Pay Less, Homeowners Pay More
Despite the efforts of these lawyers, no one has been successful in reducing the total amount of property taxes that Cook County collects. It’s just that businesses and homeowners that do not appeal pay a higher share than those who appeal successfully. Additionally, since businesses are so well represented by law firms, homeowners wind up paying more than their fair share – especially those that don’t appeal. This was last estimated in 2012 when total assessed value of commercial properties was successfully reduced at the Board of Review from 42% to 37%. As a result, the homeowner share went from 51% to 57% (the “other” category was reduced from 7% to 6%).
Steep Property Tax Increases Looming
And now that Rahm Emanuel wants to raise property taxes by $450-$550 million, it’s never been more important for homeowners to appeal their property taxes at both the Cook County Assessor’s Office and Board of Review every year.