Monday, November 29, 2010

Appealing your property tax assessment

Rep. Mike Tryon sent an email out to his constituents (and others) about steps to appeal your property tax assessment. Just substitute the name of your township and go for it. Don't count on lower taxes, though. Townships might just raise their levies.

"Unfair" is a tricky word. Check to see if that's the word used in the statute or regulations for challenges. Do you even need a reason to challenge the assessment?

"If you are a home owner in Algonquin Township or Grafton Township in McHenry County, you should have recently received your property tax assessment letter from the McHenry County Assessor’s Office. In Illinois, a property tax assessment may be challenged if the assessment is thought to be unfair. In the current declining economy, many people have successfully appealed their assessment and have received a reduction.

"The first step in determining if your assessment is fair is to call your local township assessor. When speaking to your township assessor, make sure the information about your property is correct. If you still believe your assessment is unfair, schedule an appointment with the assessor. You should bring the following evidence with you to your meeting with the assessor:

"A copy of the sales transfer declaration, a deed, or a contract
An appraisal of your property
A list of recent sales of comparable properties (similar size, story height, quality of construction, age, and style to yours)
Photos and property record cards (available at the county or township assessor’s office) should be included with the evidence of sales prices
A photo and dollar estimate of any elements that detract from the value of your property that aren’t shown in the property record card
A copy of the record card or appraisal record

"If, after this discussion, you still disagree with the assessor and are unable to work it out, you can file an appeal. By law you have only 30 days to do this. At the same time that assessment letters are mailed, assessments are published in a local newspaper. The clock on the 30-day filing period begins with date the assessments are published, so don’t delay.

"Detailed information about the assessment appeals process can be found on the McHenry County web site. A direct link to the correct page can be found here.

"From this page you can access a Q and A about appealing your assessment (bullet #1) and you can also access the residential assessment appeal packet (bullet #13). You should familiarize yourself with this information and print out the packet. You should also look at the Board of Review Rules (bullet #2).

"Keeping in mind that you are working within a 30-day window, you will have to decide if your appeal will be on “equity” or on “market value.” Your home could be assessed at the correct market value, but if all of the other similar homes on your street are assessed below market value, then you are over-assessed, because you are carrying a larger share of the tax burden. In an equity complaint, you must supply the market value and assessment of comparable properties in your neighborhood. In a market value complaint, you must supply recent sales data to support the fact that your home may be over-assessed.

"Once you have filled out the paperwork and filed your appeal, a hearing date will be set. In addition, new this year is the option to have your assessment appeal heard on the evidence and you may check the box indicating that no hearing is required. In this case, you would submit your evidence to the Board of Review. The township assessor would then submit his/her evidence. The Board of Review would conduct a hearing based solely on the weight of the evidence provided by both parties.

"If you have a hearing that you attend, in most cases the Board of Review will make an oral decision at the conclusion of the hearing. Occasionally they will want to collect additional information. The Board does not issue official written decisions until all hearings have been held which is usually sometime in mid-March. If you are still not pleased with the decision, at that point you will have 30 days of the postmark of the written decision to file a new appeal with the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board.

"If, after exhausting all of these remedies, you are still convinced that your property assessment is unfair, your only other recourse is the court system."

Thanks, Mike!!!

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