Real Estate Tax

 Our real estate tax attorneys are involved directly in all phases of our work to ensure that our clients receive personal attention and the maximum potential benefit. We actively pursue every avenue to contest taxes, ranging from complaints with county assessors and boards of review to appeals before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board and lawsuits in the circuit courts. We not only appeal assessed valuations, but also contest tax rates.

Our services include petitions for tax exemptions for educational and charitable organizations, as well as petitions for special tax incentives, including incentives for rehabilitation of real estate or renewed use of abandoned property. The special incentives we have obtained have saved our clients millions of dollars in taxes.

Our research and evaluation of property assessments is prepared without charge, so you have no risk in obtaining a free “checkup” to determine whether you are paying too much property tax.

 We have access to the Multiple Listing Service for research of residential properties and to CoStar for detailed information about commercial and industrial property sales, leases and other market information. We work with appraisers on a volume basis, so we often obtain free consultations and the resources of experts.

We are typically retained on the basis of a contingent fee, and our compensation comprises a portion of the tax savings. No hourly legal fees are charged. Moreover, we are happy to tailor our fee structure to meet the particular needs of each of our clients.

We would be happy to tell you more about our services. Please call us at 312-648-2300.

THE ASSESSMENT APPEAL STEPS

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Once an assessment notice is published, a Taxpayer has very little time in which to file an appeal.  According to Illinois statutes, an assessment appeal to the county Board of Review must be filed within 30 days of publication of the assessment notice.  There notices are typically published on a “rolling” basis – township by township.  (In Cook County, the appeal filing schedule begins with the Cook County Assessor.  In some counties, all appeals must be filed by a date set by the local Board of Review.)

Remember, the first and second installment annual tax bills represent taxes from the prior year.  So, by the time you receive a tax bill and would like to contest that bill, it is too late!  (There are some exceptions to contesting the prior year’s assessment, such as through Certificates of Error, but they are rare.)  When the annual assessment notice is published, you must act fast or you will likely lose the opportunity to contest the assessment for that year.

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

Administrative appeals to the county Boards of Review are generally resolved within about six months after the appeal is filed.  (The appeal process in Cook County usually includes the Assessor, so about one year may pass from the notice of assessment until final resolution of appeals before the Board of Review.)  However, due to the backlog of appeals to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board and lawsuits in the Circuit Courts, such appeals will generally add about two years to the process

ASSESSOR (STEP ONE)

When a taxpayer disputes an assessment, the first place to raise the issue is the office of the local assessor.  The Cook County Assessor has a formal procedure for the filing of assessment appeals along with a library of required forms.  Outside of Cook County, the process by which assessors consider objections to their assessments is an informal one.  If the Assessor does not think his or her assessment is wrong, then the only recourse for the Taxpayer is a complaint to the county Board of Review. 

BOARD OF REVIEW (STEP TWO)

Each county in Illinois has a Board of Review consisting of three members, plus their support staff, to hear assessment appeals.  The Taxpayer and the local assessor typically take turns presenting evidence to the Board of Review which determines the “correct” assessment.  (In Cook County, the Cook County Assessor does not send a representative to Board of Review hearings.)

If the Taxpayer is still not satisfied with the result, then the Taxpayer may either file an appeal to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board or a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of that county.

PROPERTY TAX APPEAL BOARD (STEP THREE)

If the Taxpayer does not win the relief he deserves after appeals to the local assessor or county Board of Review, the Taxpayer may file an appeal to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, commonly known as “PTAB.”  Such appeals must be filed within 30 days after the Board of Review publishes its decision or the assessments for the township are certified.  In fact, an appeal to the Board of Review is a prerequisite to a PTAB appeal.  The procedure for appeals is set by State of Illinois statutes and rules that are promulgated by PTAB.  Hearings are subject to the rules of evidence like trials, but the rules are generally relaxed in the discretion of the PTAB hearing officer.

If the Taxpayer is still not satisfied with the result, then the Taxpayer may either file an appeal to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board or a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of that county.

LAWSUIT IN THE CIRCUIT COURT (THE OTHER STEP THREE)

If a Taxpayer is dissatisfied with the decision of the assessor or county Board of Review, he or she may file a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of that county seeking an assessment reduction.  The complaint must be filed within 165 days of the due-date for payment of second installment taxes for the tax year at issue.  The Taxpayer cannot file both a lawsuit and a PTAB appeal, but must choose one or the other option and file within the time allowed for each.

If the Taxpayer is still not satisfied with the result, then the Taxpayer may either file an appeal to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board or a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of that county.

Assessment Appeals Methods

As the saying goes, “there is no substitute for experience.”  There are no books to teach the “ins and outs” of each government agency and jurisdiction when it comes to the handling of assessment appeals.  It is only through hands-on experience that we have learned the unique preferences of each agency and the people who staff them.  Nonetheless, there are laws that protect taxpayers from arbitrary assessments and there are certain recognized methods for the valuation of property.  The approach chosen to contest an assessment depends mainly on the type of real estate.  These are discussed in the following “primer” on property tax appeals.

Commonly Used Terms

 

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Assessor

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Assessed Value

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Assessment Cycles

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Tax Bill

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Tax Rate

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Board of Review

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Certificate of Error

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Equalization Factor (Also Known as the "Multiplier"

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Tax Rate Lawsuit

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Exemptions

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Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board ("PTAB")

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Specific Valuation Objection Lawsuit

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Tax Levy