It’s that time of year again when homeowners are reminded about how high their property taxes are. Your local government decides how much property tax should be paid by the homeowners in a community…and they seem to increase constantly! Paying these taxes are legal requirements, but many homeowners often feel blindsided by these surprise increases in their property taxes at the start of a new year.
You know the drill: we reluctantly fulfill our duties as citizens and pay the taxes because we have no choice. And then dread the return of them the following year. What if we told you that you could break the cycle of being fearful of paying large property taxes every year? The solution of appealing your property tax starts by simply connecting with your local Real Estate Attorney! Attorney Ben Weaver is a great example of a lawyer who has years of experience helping residents appeal their property taxes to lower this annual burden.
“The amount of property tax you have to pay for your house is based on the value of your house. Your local assessor’s office is in charge of deciding how much your house is worth. This is called an assessment.” Illinois Legal Aid
Did you know that you can hire an attorney to guide you through the process of appealing your taxes? A lawyer who specializes in real estate, such as Ben Weaver, has many years of experience with helping new homeowners adjust to the life as property owners. Ben understands that high property taxes can be a shock to the system and the wallet, especially after a tough year like 2020. In some cases, taxes are so high that it pushes people out of their beloved homes. Ben helped you acquire your dream home and now he’d like to help ensure that you can afford to stay there!
Most people don’t know that they can appeal their taxes! There are ways to decrease your tax or even receive a tax exemption (relief). Normally when a taxpayer receives the annual letter that notifies them of new property taxes, their eyes may dart straight to the place where all the dollar signs are. By doing this a person can miss out on some key information.
As many of us know, our state is known for high tax: “Illinois again ranked second for highest property tax rates in the nation in 2021, behind only New Jersey. Illinois homeowners average $4,942 in property taxes on the U.S. median valued home of $217,500 – exactly double the national average. That’s a tax each year of 2.27% of the house value, according to the 2021 state.” Illinois Policy
Interested in lowering your property taxes this year? Follow 23 Legal’s breakdown for appealing tax in Illinois ASAP!
Reading Your Assessment Letter from the State…
First thing’s first, gather all of your paperwork. It’s okay if you don’t understand everything inside of the assessment letter. Your main goal is to keep all your important documents organized and together. “A property assessment is a value assigned by a government agency on a piece of real estate. The assessment does not necessarily reflect the home’s market value. Instead, it is a tool for calculating property taxes.” Bankrate
The costs of property taxes are determined based on your population, location and the size of your home. In Illinois there are specific ways to measure property tax increase. Click here for a property tax calculator. These taxes are usually used to fund local institutions like school educational programs, police stations, and fire departments. Here’s what you need to look out for inside your assessment notice:
- The assessment letter may say you don’t need an attorney to file an appeal of your property tax assessment and they are technically right. What the letter doesn’t tell you is how an attorney can protect you from overpaying, comprehend legal details, and guide you through future property taxation!
- The letter may show what was paid on the property the previous year.
- The amount currently due
- Look for the date the payment is due
- Any requirements that need to be met prior to payment
- Account number
- When and where you can appeal to The Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB or Board)
What’s a Property Tax Appeal Board?
Once a local assessment notice is published, taxpayers (property owners) have very little time to file an appeal. According to the Illinois Statutes, an assessment appeal to the county Board of Review must be filed within 30 days of publication of the assessment notice. Their notices are typically published on a “rolling” basis – township by township. (For example: 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).
The window to appeal may be small, so you need to act fast! A major step to start the process of appealing is filing a letter of appeal to the local PTAB. This letter is a formal request for a review of the tax on your property. Attempting to write this letter on your own may result inadvertently in loss of opportunity for review if not done accurately with the expertise of an attorney!
What Exactly Does it Mean to Appeal My Property Tax?
According to Illinois.gov: “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.”
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.
- a copy of the property record card for and photograph of the property under appeal
- copies of the property record cards for and photographs of similar properties in the neighborhood
- a copy of the Real Estate Transfer Declaration, a deed, or a contract for purchase
- an appraisal of the property
- a list of recent sales of comparable properties (including photographs, property record cards, and evidence of the sale prices).
For further information, contact the local assessing official for the jurisdiction in which your property is located.
When Do I Need to Begin the Appeal Process?
The sooner the better! Property taxes will be due before you know it, don’t miss out on an opportunity to save money. (For the letter of the law on this matter, see the Illinois Property Tax Code, at 35 ILCS 200.)
“Homeowners in Illinois must pay property tax each year to the local taxing authorities. The first installment is due on June 1, or the day after the date specified on your tax bill, whichever date is later. The second installment is due on September 1, or the day after the date specified on your tax bill, again, whichever is later.” Nolo
What are the Benefits of Appealing My Property Tax?
- Gain control of your finances
- Lower property taxes will save you money
- Feel empowered
- Peace of mind knowing you can afford to stay in your home
- Pay what is fair according to market value
You’re Not Alone…
Try not to let this project stress you out. It’s okay if you can’t locate all of the necessary information at once. When you have an attorney like Ben Weaver on your side, he will step in to help make confusing documents simpler to understand. A common mistake some homeowners make is rushing through the appeal process on their own and paying the money upfront. By not properly reviewing your paperwork with an expert, you run the risk of unnecessarily spending thousands of dollars or your appeal being rejected for not being submitted properly!
Working with an Attorney is the Secret for Success!
While this process can technically be carried out without a lawyer, we highly recommend having an experienced real estate attorney on your team for the best chance at a successful appeal. Don’t make the mistake of trying to appeal your taxes on your own! When you retain attorney Ben Weaver, you can rest assured that you’ll benefit from his effective legal strategies, he’ll keep your appeal consistent with the deadline schedule, and he will follow the proper procedures to make sure your assessed valuation is fair.
Don’t settle for paying high taxes! Let us help you do something about it.
Attorney Ben Weaver is known for going above and beyond for his clients. Whether you’d like to appeal your taxes in Illinois, request guidance in buying or selling your home, or have an estate planning question, you’ll need a trustworthy lawyer who cares!
Please feel free to contact us for assistance or with any questions you have. Click here to read 5-star client reviews!
Why Choose 23 Legal
23 Legal offers Real Estate and Estate Planning legal services to individuals, families, community associations and small business owners throughout Chicagoland. We know how intimidating “the law” can be. In fact, when most people think of law offices, they think of stuffy leather chairs, huge wooden desks and pompous lawyers who charge outrageous fees. That’s not us! We believe in 1-to-1; the same lawyer should work with you all the way through. Whether you have an estate planning issue, family trust concern, or you have a legal problem in regard to a new home, business, real estate or remodel, you need a lawyer who cares. That’s where Ben comes in! We are great listeners; more than that, we are lawyers who believe that our clients always come first.