It’s the beginning of the year, which means you probably recently received the first installment of your property tax bill for 2014. If you feel that your property taxes are too high, you might be able to appeal them and get the county to lower them.
How do you proceed?
The first thing to note is how property taxes are calculated. Every county has a tax rate, which is multiplied by the assessed value of your property to produce your property tax amount due. You can’t appeal the tax rate itself, but you can appeal the assessed value of your property, which can be dramatically different from your home’s actual value.
The county doesn’t have the resources to accurately measure the value of your property every year. Instead, it relies on some general estimates that you, as the owner, can help to correct. The assessed value of your property should be stated on your tax bill. If you believe the actual value is lower, you can file an appeal and get the county to take a second look at your tax bill.
In your appeal, you’ll get to correct any errors in how the county has assessed your property. You’ll also get to state your reason for appealing, which could include:
- Overvaluation – Your property is worth less than the county assumes it is. You’ll have to provide proof, such as a purchase price, formal value assessment, etc.
- Lack of Uniformity – Your property assessment is not in line with other similar properties in the neighborhood.
- Description Error – The county has misclassified your property in a way that has inflated your tax burden.
- Damage – Fire, water, or other damage has decreased the value of your property.
You can find all the relevant deadlines and forms at the Cook County Assessor’s website. Keep in mind that deadlines are tight, and your window for filing an appeal is only about a month out of the year. Check the website above often for updates to make sure you don’t miss the deadline.