How Cook County Property Taxes Are FormulatedAll Cook County homeowners are painfully familiar with what they owe in property taxes but few know how those taxes are formulated.

Below is the 8-step process for how your property taxes are formulated with a timeline and approximate date ranges for the 2017 tax year as an example.

Step 1: Taxing Body Budget Requests

Cook County taxing bodies submit their 2017 budgets (in May-June of 2016) to the Department of Budget and Management Services (DBMS). Taxing bodies include:

  • School districts
  • Water reclamation districts
  • Forest preserves
  • Villages
  • Cities
  • Townships
  • Libraries

Step 2: Appropriations Ordinance Approval & Implementation

DBMS prepares preliminary budget forecast based on department requests and revenue forecasts (June). The County Board President holds a public hearing on the preliminary budget (July), then submits an Executive Budget Recommendation to the Committee on Finance (September). The proposed budget is published and the Finance Committee holds hearings, after which the Appropriations Ordinance is approved and adopted by the Board of Commissioners authorizing funding and staffing levels (October/November). The Appropriations Ordinance is implemented on December 1, 2016 and the County’s fiscal year begins.

Step 3: Taxing District Filing Requests

The taxing districts file their tax levy requests with the County Clerk’s Tax Extension Unit on or before the last Tuesday in December.

Step 4: Assessor Release of Home Value Assessments

The Cook County Assessor’s office establishes property valuations as follows:

  1. 38 townships are grouped into three districts
  2. Each district is re-assessed triennially with the South Suburbs district being re-assessed in 2017
  3. The goal is to establish fair market value for each property
  4. The assessment process is based on mass appraisals
  5. Assessment and re-assessment data is released one township at a time from January through November 2017 – as a township’s assessment or re-assessment data is released its corresponding 30 day appeal window opens

Step 5: Property Tax Appeal Windows Open

Property tax appeals are possible from January 2017 through February 2018. You have the opportunity to appeal your assessment at:

  • Assessor’s Office: 30 day appeal windows by township from January 2017 through November 2017
  • Board of Review: 38 townships typically placed in 8 groups for appeal purposes and have 30-day appeal windows by group from August 2017 through February 2018
  • PTAB: your appeal opportunity is a 30-day window from Board of Review appeal determination – successful appeals through this office would result in a refund since the appeal result would not be determined until after tax bill had already been paid
  • Circuit Court: your appeal opportunity is after the 2017 2nd installment property tax bills are due (Autumn 2018) – successful appeals through this office would result in a refund since the appeal result would not be determined until after tax bill had already been paid

Step 6: Illinois Department of Revenue (DOR)

The Illinois DOR’s Role (Spring 2018):

  • Compares last three years of sale prices against their assessed values and then calculates the property tax equalization assessed value (EAV)
  • In Cook County residential property is assessed at 10% of fair market value
  • In Illinois, counties are required to “equalize” property tax assessments so that the median level of assessment is at 33% of fair market value
  • The Cook County equalization factor often approaches a factor of 3 while other counties are typically closer to 1.0

Step 7: Cook County Clerk

The Cook County Clerk’s Role (Spring 2018):

  • Reviews levy requests from taxing bodies
  • Determines the tax rates required to produce the revenue requested to be charged against all properties located within the boundaries of the taxing district based on post-appeal assessment values (and less exemptions)

Step 8: Cook County Treasurer

The Cook County Treasurer’s Role (2nd installment of 2017 calculated in spring/summer of 2018) consists primarily of calculating, issuing, and collecting two property tax bills per year:

  • 1st installment of 2017 tax year is due in March 2018 and is always 55% of the previous year’s total bill
  • 2nd installment of 2017 is due in August 2018: your property tax bill in August 2018 is when you see savings from 2017 appeals due to the different agencies roles/duties and time it takes to fulfill those duties

The Cook County Treasurer prints and mails property tax bills based on assessments, exemptions and tax rates provided by the Cook County Assessor and Clerk. The Treasurer then collects your property taxes and distributes the tax funds to taxing districts.

Are Your Property Taxes Too High?

So, there you have it: how Cook County property taxes are formulated and all the government bodies involved. Contact us if you have any questions or if you’d like to appeal your Cook County property taxes and save hundreds or thousands, starting with a free consultation.

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