Property Tax Appeals

We are here to help you exercise your right as a property owner to a correct and equitable assessment of your property, and the first step is understanding the assessment and appeals process. This page will explain some of the basics of how property tax assessments are made and how you can appeal your assessment to avoid paying too much.

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Property Tax Assessments
Should I Protest My New Assessment Even If It Decreased?
Tax Appeals Process

Property Tax Assessments

An assessment is a specific value placed on your property which directly affects how much you will pay in property taxes. The Cook County Assessor reviews and updates your assessment once every three years. Your assessment is based upon a percentage of your property’s market value. Cook County employs a classification system in which property is assessed at different percentages:

Cook County Property Assessments

Residential 10%
Vacant Land 10%
Apartment Buildings (>6 units) 16%*
Commercial/Industrial 25%
* Apartments to be reduced to 13% in 2010 and 10% in 2011

In all counties other than Cook, property is reassessed once every four years and is assessed at 33 1/3 percent of its market value.

An increase in your assessment can increase your property taxes. For example:

How an Assessment Increase Impacts Your Property Taxes

  Prior Assessment New Assessment
Market Value $500,000 $600,000
x Assessment % x       10% x        10%
= Assessment =$ 50,000 =$60,000
x Sample Equalization Rate x 2.9 x 2.9
x Sample Tax Rate x        8% x        8%
=Taxes Prior to Exemptions =$ 11,600 =$ 13,920

While a decrease in your assessment is certainly helpful in limiting your property taxes it is no guarantee that your tax bill will not increase or that you are not paying more than your fair share of property taxes. To understand why this is, read the next section: Should I Protest My New Assessment Even If It Decreased?

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Should I Protest My New Assessment Even If It Decreased?

Yes, your tax bill may still increaseUnlike income taxes in which the taxes collected depends on the income of the taxpayers, with property taxes the government decides how much it wants (called a “levy”) and then collects from each property owner based on their respective assessment. As a result, your assessment determines how much of the levy you pay and a decrease in your assessment may not decrease your property taxes for a number of reasons.

The relative nature of levies means your bill may still increaseSimple Example: Assume that your property’s prior assessment of $20,000 resulted in you paying 1% of a $1,000,000 levy for a tax bill of $10,000. Your new assessment decreases 5% to $19,000, but all other assessments decreased 10%. You may end up paying 1.5% of the levy for a tax bill of $15,000.

Increase in government leviesIncrease in Government Levies: If the government increases its levy to $1,100,000 your new tax bill will increase to $16,500. The Chicago Board of Education has increased its levy by over $213,000,000 since 2005 and the City of Chicago has increased its levy by nearly $150,000,000 in that same period.

Drop in Commercial/Industrial Assessment LevelsDrop in Commercial/Industrial Assessment Levels: Beginning in 2009, commercial and industrial property will be assessed at only 25% of market value instead of 38% and 36% as in the past. This dramatic drop for commercial and industrial property may lessen their taxes and increase the burden on homeowners.

Loss of 7% CapLoss of 7% Cap: Since 2003 Chicago homeowners have enjoyed an inflated exemption which artificially lowered their taxes, commonly called the “7% Cap”. However, the 7% Cap was not renewed for 2009. As a result, your homestead exemption may be reduced resulting in an increase in your tax bill.

You may pay more than your fair shareYou May Pay More Than Your Fair Share: Even though your assessment decreased, you may still pay more than your fair share if your assessment is higher than similar homes in your neighborhood. For a real life example, a suburban homeowner’s assessment was reduced 15% in 2009. Sounds great until we analyzed her assessment and determined it was one of the highest in her neighborhood with 360 similar houses having a lower assessment.

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Tax Appeals Process

Taxpayers in Cook County have access to a three tiered administrative property tax appeal process. Each tier has its own rules, practices and procedures, forms and deadlines which must be strictly followed for a successful appeal. Taxpayers outside of Cook County have only a two tired appeal process (Board of Review and Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board).

Cook County Assessor

The Cook County Assessor initially assesses every property in the County once every three years. An appeal, however, can be made in any year during a 30-day window for filing appeals scheduled at different times for each individual township.

Cook County Board of Review

Once the Cook County Assessor certifies its final assessments the Cook County Board of Review (CCBOR) will open its own window for filing appeals at different times for each individual township. The CCBOR has 30 Rules and failure to follow any Rule may be grounds for dismissal of your appeal. Also, only a taxpayer or his or her attorney can file an appeal with the Board of Review – tax consultants cannot.

Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board

The Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) is the highest level of administrative property tax appeal. Section 1910 of the Illinois Administrative Code contains PTAB’s 39 Rules for Practice and Procedure. Failure to follow the PTAB’s Rules shall result in default of the appeal. Again, only a taxpayer or his or her attorney can file an appeal with PTAB – tax consultants cannot.

Tax Objection Complaints In Circuit Court

In addition to the three-tiered administrative process, taxpayers may also pay a fee to file a tax objection complaint in Circuit Court instead of the Property Tax Appeal Board. There are separate rules, practices and procedures, forms and deadlines which must be strictly followed for those complaints.

You have a legal right to protest your assessment. Each year thousands of people successfully appeal their assessments and receive reductions in their property taxes. For example, in 2008 over 280,000 appeals were filed with the Cook County Board of Review. In 2005 over 65% of the cases filed were successful in obtaining an assessment reduction.

Uniquely experienced legal counsel can fight for the lowest possible assessment on your behalf. Contact us now at 847/380-3588,, or simply request a Free Property Tax Analysis here.

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