How to Appeal Your Property Taxes: 3 Approaches

 How to Appeal Your Cook County Property TaxesIf 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.

Comparable Sales Argument

A comparable sales argument uses the recent sale prices of comparable properties or “comps” that match your home’s characteristics – e.g. square footage, lot size, location, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, age, construction type, etc. to determine the value of your property. When the value set for your home by the assessor is greater than the value determined by actual comparable sales, you have a comparable sales argument to make for a reduction in your property’s assessed value. Determining comps requires a fair bit of research. You’ll want to find those properties that have sold recently and that match your property’s key characteristics.

The comparable sale approach to value is similar to how an appraiser might value your property. If you’ve had an appraisal done on your property recently, it may be used as evidence of your property’s value in connection with an appeal of the value assigned to it by the assessor. Similarly, if you’ve recently purchased your property, the purchase price may be used as evidence of your property’s value in connection with an appeal of the value assigned to it by the assessor.

Lack of Uniformity Argument

The Illinois Constitution provides that taxes upon real property shall be levied uniformly by valuation. This protection gives rise to appeal rights through the lack of uniformity argument. This argument is a common one for homeowners to make in Cook County. In our experience, however, taxpayers tend to misunderstand how this protection is applied. We often speak with taxpayers who want to argue that the value of their home should be lower because of variations in its assessed value relative to those of their neighbors. It’s important to understand that real property is considered unique, and that not all properties in a given neighborhood, even those on an individual block, are similar enough to be considered comparable from a uniformity standpoint.

For example, if a neighbor’s house is valued at $10,000 less than yours, you may feel that you should be taxed at the same rate. However, that variation in value may be explained by certain characteristic differences in the properties such as age, construction type (e.g. masonry vs. frame), the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, lot size, etc.

The key to making a successful uniformity argument is in finding properties in your area that are truly comparable to your property.

Economic Value Argument

For income producing properties, including multi-family properties, the Cook County Assessor’s Office and Board of Review generally recognize that the value of the property can be determined based on the net income generated by the property. If you do make this argument, you’ll need to be prepared to share several years’ worth of income and expense information in connection with your appeal.

Note: in each argument explained above, you are arguing for a valuation change for your property, and not a tax rate change.

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