You probably just received the first installment of your 2015 real estate tax bills, and once the panic over the upcoming second installment subsides, you want to know how to lower that bill. As I talked about a couple of weeks ago right here, some of the assessments went absolutely bananas for 2015, and you can expect the second installment of your tax bill to deliver a real sucker punch if you are not prepared. One way to combat the ever-increasing property tax bill is to appeal the assessment.
Believe it or not, appealing your assessment can be relatively simple. Many people choose to use an attorney to appeal. The good news is that most attorneys who handle assessment appeals work on a contingency basis and charge a fee based upon how much they save you on your tax bill. In other words, if they don’t win, you don’t pay!
It is crucial to know the appeal deadline for your township. Once the 30-day appeal window closes, you are stuck! The Assessor mails assessment notices throughout the year. In Cook County, you can find out when the Assessor expects to mail the notice for your township here. As of today, there are 2 townships in Cook County open for appeal, River Forest and Riverside. Importantly, those townships close for appeals on February 29, 2016. If your property is there, you have no time to waste! Other counties publish similar information on their assessor and treasurer websites. Appeals are accepted for 30 days after the date the notices are mailed.
Owners of single-family detached homes can either contact an attorney or file an appeal themselves. Some people feel relatively comfortable with the process, and filing online is pretty easy. The link for filing an appeal online is here. Grab your comparables and have at it!
For townhome and condominium owners, the process is a bit more complicated. You should reach out to your association board and suggest hiring an attorney to file an appeal for the whole building or community. The reason for this is that your community probably has many similar units, which are likely assessed equally. As a result, an individual appeal is likely to fail, because the law requires the assessor to assess properties uniformly. In other words, it does not make sense for you to have a lower assessment than your neighbor with an identical property, regardless of the fair market value of the units.
This is a birds-eye view of the process, and everyone’s situation is unique. I encourage everyone to consult with an experienced assessment appeal attorney about the feasibility of an appeal.
As always, I welcome you to contact me at 773-632-8330 or email@example.com with any questions about filing an assessment appeal. There is no good reason to pay more tax than absolutely necessary!
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