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:
Illinois Legislators Approve Automatic Renewal of Exemptions Due to COVID-19
Seniors, disabled veterans, and people with disabilities will no longer have to apply annually to receive the benefit of property tax exemptions for which they are eligible, under a statewide law passed recently to expand relief for hard-hit homeowners during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, who pushed for the law, announced the bill’s passage in a press release on June 11.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put tremendous pressure on Cook County homeowners,” said Kaegi. “We’re pleased to work with the legislature, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, and the County Board to help at-risk homeowners when they need it most.”
Keeping Up with the Property Tax Appeal Schedule
Keeping on top of the deadlines for filing an appeal of your property tax assessment doesn’t seem like it would be an unmanageable task. And maybe it wouldn’t be if that were all you had to keep track of.
There are four key dates every year – not counting the deadline for paying your taxes on time! – the opening and closing date of the window for appealing your assessment to the county assessor’s office and the opening and closing date of the window for filing an appeal with the board of review.
Senior citizens, disabled and returning veterans and new homeowners also have deadlines for applying for exemptions that can reduce their property tax bills. So that’s five or six key dates for potentially saving thousands of dollars in property taxes or avoiding a late fee.
5 Ways to Avoid Overpaying Your Property Taxes
In her recent article, Are You Paying Too Much Property Tax?, Vera Gibbons of Zillow identifies five ways to help ensure you’re not paying more in property taxes than you should:
- Correct Basic Errors: verify that there are no mistakes on your property card, including dimensions, acreage, value, bedrooms, bathrooms, garage size, and other key amenities like a fireplace or swimming pool; if you find any errors, you may qualify for a reduction in your property taxes
- Comps: compare your home’s property information with your neighbors that have similar homes in terms of age, size, style, proximity, and condition; if you’re assessed higher to a comparable property, you can make an argument for a property tax reduction
- Unique Conditions: if there is anything about your property or neighborhood making it somewhat undesirable, e.g. proximity to busy streets, power lines or commercial operations like a factory, you may qualify for a property tax reduction
- Improvements: if your property tax bill includes structural enhancements that were never made, than you have a good case for a reduction in your property taxes
- Exemptions: property tax reductions are often available for seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, historic buildings, and homes with certain energy efficient enhancements
Read the whole article here
Property Tax Appeal Service
If you think you may qualify for a property tax reduction on your property taxes for your home or business because of anything listed above or for any other reason, contact us for a free estimate on the maximum deduction we project for you.
We’ve helped more than 10,000 clients in Cook County and throughout the Chicagoland area save $1,000 or more on their property taxes since 1999.
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Cook County Senior Exemption Deadline: February 3, 2016
Attention all seniors in Cook County: the deadline for applying and re-applying for both the Senior Citizen Exemption and the Senior Freeze Exemption is February 3, 2016.
Not doing so will result in the loss of the exemption applied to your 2016 second installment property tax bills that you will receive this summer. Even if you have had one or both of these exemptions previously, you must now re-apply every year.
Cook County Senior Exemption Deadline Nearing
Applications for two property tax exemptions for Cook County senior citizens have been mailed out to property owners who received the exemptions last year. The deadline for re-applying for the exemption is Feb. 6, 2019. The application is required every year, regardless of past eligibility.
The Senior Citizen Exemption entitles eligible property owners to an $8,000 reduction in the equalized assessed value of their property, reducing their tax bills for tax year 2018 by lowering the value of their property that is used to calculate the amount of taxes owed.
Senior Exemption Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for the Senior Exemption, a Cook County taxpayer must meet the following criteria:
- Been born in or before 1953
- Owned their property during 2018, or had a lease or contract that made them responsible for property taxes in 2018
- Used the property as their principal residence in 2018
Factoring Floodplain Data into Property Tax Assessments
Cook County Tax Assessor Fritz Kaegi backed off a plan to provide immediate relief to more than 1,100 homeowners living within a floodplain in the New Trier township after a rocky roll-out left him having to defend a decision that would have reduced the assessed value of some pricey homes by as much as 30%.
But floodplain data, compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has been added to the county’s assessment models and will be a factor taken into consideration going forward.
Exemption to Provide Property Tax Relief for Survivors of First Responders
The surviving spouses of Chicago police officers, firefighters, active duty soldiers and other first responders who have died in the line of duty will be eligible for an exemption waiving the city portion of their property tax bill, under an ordinance that will take effect next year with the 2019 tax bill.
While state lawmakers originally authorized this bill in 2012, it required the sponsorship of local officials. The measure was sponsored in Chicago by 11th Ward Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson.
“While our debt to their service and sacrifice cannot possibly be repaid, their legacies are carried on by the families they loved,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure we can make their lives a little easier.”
Senior Exemption Will Renew Automatically Next Year
Cook County property owners who have already applied for and received a senior exemption will have one less chore next year under a law that makes the exemption automatic for property owners 65 and older.
In the past, the senior exemption had to be renewed annually, a task that the Cook County Treasurer’s Office found was overlooked by more than 25,000 of the county’s approximately 740,000 eligible seniors.
Under the law that went into effect this year, eligible seniors will only have to apply for the exemption once and it will auto renew annually. The exemption can reduce a homeowner’s property tax bill by an average of $300 a year as it reduces the property’s equalized assessed value by $8,000.
Illinois Legislators Pass Bill for Auto-Renewal of Senior Exemption
A bill awaiting the governor’s signature will make it easier for property owners age 65 or older to get the senior tax exemption credit, which reduces the equalized assessed value of a home by $8,000.
The exemption saves eligible property owners an average of $300 in taxes, but last year the Cook County Treasurer’s Office reported that “as many as 31,000” eligible seniors in Cook County” had failed to reapply. The new bill would make the process automatic.
Under existing law, seniors have to reapply for the exemption every year.