A wise man once said, “there’re only two things guaranteed in life: death and taxes.” One of those taxes is property taxes. Virtually everyone that owns land or a building must pay property taxes each year in America. Unfortunately, most people are overpaying on their property taxes, especially in Cook County. The purpose of this article is to provide you with how you can appeal/contest your property taxes in Cook County.
Property taxes are assessed on the perceived value of your subject property and are usually re-assessed every three years. That’s right; the value assigned to your property by Cook County is what an assessor/appraiser thinks the property is worth. After analyzing a tremendous amount of property tax bills, I’ve come to find out that this number isn’t always accurate. Over half of the properties in Cook County are over-assessed! Why does this matter? Because you’re literally most likely throwing away dollars by not appealing your property taxes. This is money that can be saved or better yet, invested into something that grows over the long-term. Now imagine owning a property for 30 years and never appealing? That can be a huge loss.
Your property is typically compared to other similar properties in your area (comps) and your property is assessed at a value in between three of the most similar properties. Luckily, you can appeal your property taxes! You can appeal your property taxes three times a year in Cook County: at the Assessor level, Board of Review (BoR) level, and Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) level (highest level). Most people don’t appeal so they sadly keep getting over-assessed each year. One thing to keep in mind is that good tax planning considers not only income taxes, but also property taxes.
You can appeal your property taxes through an attorney, who will typically take a portion of the savings (i.e. 30-50%). You can also appeal through an external company such mine, Badu Appeals, LLC. My company will help you appeal at all three levels for a low fixed fee and I recently helped one of my clients/friends save over $1,500 on their property tax bill! Once you appeal, the County will be more hesitant to over-assess you and you should appeal each and every year and possibly, at all three levels each and every year. Always know your deadlines. Townships are usually open for appeals for a short period of time throughout the year (typically 30 days).
One thing to keep in mind is that property taxes are paid in arrears. This means that in 2018, we’re paying 2017’s property taxes, similar to income taxes. One thing to note about my company is that we will give you a full refund if appeals are unsuccessful at all three levels. Please be careful in appealing if you have certain exemptions such as the senior exemption (i.e. you could lose it because of the appeal). If you don’t have enough comparables (comps) in your area, it’ll be hard, if not impossible to appeal and if you live in a condo, ask your condo board to do a group appeal as individual condo appeals usually don’t lead to much savings.
To conclude, taxes are typically a person’s biggest expense. Please don’t forget to appeal your property taxes as if you don’t, you’re most likely leaving money on the table. If you would like to appeal, I can assist you with that and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.