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  • Writer's pictureDonna Baker

Property Taxes: Can I Appeal Mine?

Property tax is a local tax imposed by local government taxing districts (e.g., school districts, municipalities, counties) and administered by local officials (e.g., township assessors, chief county assessment officers, local boards of review, county collectors). Property taxes are collected and spent at the local level.  As a bit of interesting information, Illinois does not have a state property tax. When Illinois became a state in 1818, the Illinois Constitution allowed the state and local taxing districts to tax property in direct proportion to its value. The last year the State of Illinois imposed real estate taxes was 1932. Since then, property taxes have only been imposed by local government taxing districts.

A property tax assessment may be considered unfair if the property’s assessed value is • not 33 1/3 percent of its fair market value except in Cook County, which has a classification system; • not at the same level as comparable properties in the area; or • based on inaccurate information, such as an incorrect measurement of a lot or building. A copy of the property record card for all real estate parcels is on file at the county or township office. The property record card shows the property’s assessed value and how that assessed value was calculated. Assessment records maintained in the assessor’s office are public information. Property owners have the right to inspect records for their properties and any other parcel of property. This inspection is subject to reasonable regulations established by local officials.

You should review your property record card carefully before filing an appeal. Because property taxes are levied, collected, and spent locally to finance a major part of the services that units of local government provide to their residents, the appeal process begins at the local level.

When going through the appeal process, you, the property owner, are appealing the assessed value of your property, not the tax bill. The amount of the tax bill is determined by the various tax rates that are applied to the assessment based on the levies of various local government taxing districts which include counties, townships, municipalities, school districts, special districts, etc. If the assessment increases, the change must be published in a local newspaper. Individual notices will also be mailed in some instances.

Note: Tax rates are not an issue in the assessment appeal process, only the amount of the assessment. Once you receive the tax bill, it is generally too late to make an appeal for that year’s assessment.

Reasons for an appeal

The assessor’s market value is higher than actual market value. (This claim can be supported if you have recently purchased your property on the open market or if you supply a professional appraisal.)

·        The assessed value is at a higher percentage of market value for your property than the prevailing township or county median level as shown in an assessment/sales ratio study.

·        The primary assessment of the property is based on inaccurate information, such as an incorrect measurement of a lot or building.

·        The assessment is higher than those of similar neighboring properties. 

Informal appeal

You may contact your township or multi-township assessor or chief county assessment officer if you have a complaint. Calling an erroneous assessment to the assessor’s attention early in the year may result in a correction without using the formal appeal process. If the assessor still has the assessment books for that year, he or she can correct any erroneous assessment.

Note: Some chief county assessment officers require a written complaint form and may have rules regarding hearings and evidence.

Formal appeal

A formal appeal can be made in writing to your county board of review. Contact the board of review for more specific information including deadlines, complaint forms, evidence, rules of practice, etc.

Note: A written appeal to the county board of review is a prerequisite to any further appeal to the State Property Tax Appeal Board or the circuit court in your county.

Steps in appealing an assessment

Obtain the property record card with the assessed valuation of the property.Discuss the assessment with the assessor to determine how the assessment was calculated.Determine the fair market value for the property.Determine the prevailing assessment level in the district.Determine the basis for a formal complaint.File a written complaint on Form PTAX-230, Non-farm Assessment Complaint, with the county board of review.Present evidence of unfair assessment to the board of review.

Evidence needed

A copy of the property record card for and photograph of the property under appealcopies of the property record cards for and photographs of similar properties in the neighborhooda copy of the Real Estate Transfer Declaration, a deed, or a contract for purchasean appraisal of the propertya list of recent sales of comparable properties (including photographs, property record cards, and evidence of the sale prices).

Keep in mind that once the tax bill is received, it is generally too late to file a complaint for a given year’s assessment.

For further information, contact the local assessing official for the jurisdiction in which your property is located.

Information Source for this article: St. Clair County, Illinois

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