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The Taxman Cometh: Property Tax Appeals in Lake County, IL

The Blue Card

In the coming weeks, as Lake County property owners are attempting to gather the funds to cover the second installment of their 2012 property tax bills, they will also be receiving their 2013 property tax assessment notices (the “blue card”). These notices establish the assessed value of real estate for tax purposes. The assessor of each respective township where the property in question is located will use the assessed value as the basis for calculating tax liability for the following two years. Accordingly, any reduction in 2013 property tax liability will result in savings for the following two years (2014-15).

Background on Property Tax Appeals

A brief analysis of the property values within the past few years reveals that since the home mortgage debacle of 2008, Lake County, Illinois real estate values have plummeted a stark 25%, nearly 6% in 2011 alone. Accordingly, many counties and townships have reduced their resident’s property tax assessments. Unfortunately, in many situations, these new property tax assessments have not been reduced sufficiently to accurately reflect the fair market value of the real estate at issue. What’s more, because property owners are successfully appealing their property tax assessments in droves, in order to compensate for the loss in taxable revenue for these successfully tax appeals, property tax rates (i.e., the percentage by which your assessment is multiplied by in order to determine ultimate tax liability) are being increased by a percentage point or two on an annual basis.

This ultimately means one thing: you are paying more than your fair share in property taxes and deserve a reduction. Your assessment is designed to allocate the burden of supporting your local schools, municipalities, and parks equally amongst the residents of your township. If you haven’t appealed your property tax assessment within the past couple of years, you are almost guaranteed to be paying more in property tax liability than you should be.

You Must Keep in Mind: Assessment ≠ Appraisal

What is essential to keep in mind is that your assessment is not the same as a private appraisal completed to determine the fair market value of your home for re-finance or other purposes. Assessor methods to determine your property tax assessment are regrettably far more unspecialized, never analyzing your specific property individually. Thus, especially given current market trends, discrepancies concerning your assessment are almost always assured. Coupled with increasing tax rates, by not appealing your property tax assessment, you are doing yourself and your family a great disservice. It’s essentially tantamount to flushing money down the toilet.

Lake County Specific

Each township, eighteen total in Lake County, has its own appeal filing deadline, depending entirely on the date in which property tax notices are mailed out. Property owners will have thirty (30) days after notice is remitted in which to formerly file an appeal with the Lake County Assessor to seek a reduction in their property tax assessments. For example, a parcel of land located in Warren Township will have a different filing deadline than a property located in Vernon Township. Because of these tight deadlines, property owners are encouraged to take advantage of the County Assessor’s website in order to determine filing deadlines, view current and past tax liabilities, and to utilize the very handy comparable property search grid instrument. The Lake County assessor’s home page is: http://assessor.lakecountyil.gov/Pages/default.aspx.

Procedures

The procedures of a Lake County property tax appeal are fairly straight forward. First of all, you need to be made aware that as a property owner, you may represent yourself through the process. However, should you feel it be necessary to engage with a licensed professional to represent you in your efforts to reduce your property tax assessment, in Illinois, an attorney is the only licensed professional who can represent a party in a judicial or quasi-judicial setting. Speaking in front of the Board of Review falls under this definition.

Evidence

Once you have decided the question of representation, evidence must be gathered illustrating the Fair Market Value of the property in order to provide a basis for a reduction. You may use the comparable property grid in order to analogize recently sold properties of the same likeness as the subject parcel, you may use a recent sale price of the subject parcel, legal briefs, or you may use an ad-valorem appraisal in order to establish Fair Market Value. Property appraisals conducted by licensed professionals are always the preferred and best form of evidence.

Oral Hearings

Once the foundational evidence has been gathered, the property tax appeal form must be completed and submitted, accompanied by any evidence utilized as the basis for the appeal, before the expiration of the respective filing deadline. The appellant may request an in person or telephonic hearing with the Board of Review in order to orally present an argument for a basis of reduction in taxable assessment. These hearings will not last any longer than fifteen (15) minutes. Often times, once the evidence is gathered, it’s recommended to contact the appropriate township Assessor the subject parcel is situated in order to determine whether or not the Township Assessor will agree to reduce the taxable assessment without forcing the tax-payer to file a formal appeal with the County Board of Review, thusly negating the necessity for an oral hearing to take place.

Tomei Law Representation

If you are interested in appealing your property tax assessment and need representation, please feel free to contact us on-line, or call (847) 596-7494 for a free consultation. We offer a very simple, low-risk payment schedule for property tax appeals. In fact, we don’t get paid unless you see a reduction in your property tax assessment. Our fee is entirely contingent upon a successful appeal. You could see a $500-$2,000 reduction in your property taxes, so please don’t delay!

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Tomei Law, P.C.

ADDRESS
223 N IL. Rt. 21, Ste. 14
Gurnee, IL 60031

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