Odds Are You Need To Appeal Your Cook County Property Taxes

Odds Are You Need To Appeal Your Cook County Property Taxes

After seeing just how inaccurate Zillow's home price estimates are it occurred to me that  property taxes suffer from the same problem - i.e. wildly inaccurate home value estimates are resulting in thousands of people overpaying in property taxes and thousands of others paying far too little. If you want to get excited about financial inequities property taxes is where you want to focus your attention. You can actually do something about it and you should.

I pulled some random recent closings and compared the sale price of the homes to the 2011 first pass market values that the Cook County Assessor is coming up with. As you might expect the results are all over the board.

If you take a straight average of the errors you get about 9.7%, which means that on average the market values are too high and there are more positive errors (market value too high) than negative errors. All of this is actually a bit of a surprise to me because I figured that people would be pretty active in trying to get their assessed values knocked down. They certainly wouldn't be trying to correct errors in their favor. So I fully expected to find a negative bias.The fact that I didn't indicates that people are overpaying their Cook County property taxes.

So clearly you need to get on the stick and check out what kind of 2011 market value Cook County is coming up with for you and see if your valuation is out of whack. Do your research on what's closing around you that might be comparable and see if you can come up with a fair market value for your own home. I recently did this for my mother-in-law and it's a bit of work so I'm not going to suggest that you contact a realtor unless you want to pay them for their time. Of course, if you just bought your place this gets pretty easy. You just attach a copy of your HUD closing statement to your appeal form and it should be a no-brainer - in theory.

It's too late to do anything about your 2011 assessments (except Hyde Park and Hanover townships still have a couple of days left) but it's not too soon to be looking ahead to your 2012 assessments. You may need the time to get psyched up about doing this because once your assessment notice comes out you only have a one month window to appeal your property tax valuation. The Cook County property tax appeal timetable will appear behind a link at the bottom of the page I just linked to. I've reproduced the 2011 filing dates and appeal deadlines here to give you some rough idea of where the dates will probably fall in 2012. Your dates depend upon which township you are in. Mid May will probably be the earliest date that some townships will receive their assessment notices and be open for appeal.

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    Cook County has punished owners of commercial property for a very long time. While holding down increases on residential properties, they've socked it to the businesses. The enters the scam..you hire attorneys to fight the outrageous assessment, they eventually get a reduction (you have to pay in the meantime) and 'if' you get a reduction, you pay up to 35% of the perceived savings to the lawyers. My commercial property in Cook County has paid 6 figures for years and years, if the same property was in Lake or Dupage Counties, the price would be half of what it is now. Makes staying in business really difficult when you work 3 months of the year just to pay your dues to the tax man.

  • I agree most should do something about their assessment. Just thought I would clear up two things. It is not too late for many Cook County taxpayers. The deadlines listed in the article are for 2011 appeals to the Cook County Assessor, but many taxpayers still have the opportunity to file a 2011 appeal with the Cook County Board of Review (see www.cookcountyboardofreview.com, "Dates and Deadlines"). Also, the time to file is not 30 days after you get your tax bill. It is actually a 30 day window as set by the Assessor or Board of Review, respectively. If you wait until you get your tax bill, it is too late.

  • In reply to TheKing:

    Thanks for the information. I corrected my post to reflect the mailing date of the assessment notice as opposed to the mailing date of the tax bill. Thought I had corrected that earlier.

    As for the board of review dates...I clicked on that link and it opened a PDF with no dates in it.

  • For the Board of Review deadlines, after clicking on "Dates & Deadlines", click on "2011 Tax Year Township and Exemption Dates & Deadlines". Should link you to: http://www.cookcountyboardofreview.com/assets/pdfs/2011TOWNSHIPOPEN-CLOSE.pdf.
    Hopefully that will work.

  • If you have recently had an appraisal done on your property (say you re-financed for example) this is also a great tool to tell what the fair market value of your home may be, as it is supposed to be based on "recent" sales of "comparable" properties.

    Also do not forget that property taxes take into account the LAND that the building or home sits upon, not just the market value of the building or dwelling.

    Am I accurate Gary?

  • In reply to jrinspect1:

    Correct on both accounts.

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    Gary Lucido

    After 20 years in the corporate world and running an Internet company, Gary started Lucid Realty with his partner, Sari. The company provides full service, while discounting commissions for sellers and giving buyers rebates.

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