Disputing Your Property Taxes in Four Steps

Property taxes are the second biggest expense owners of real estate face, after mortgage servicing. Fortunately, property owners have the ability to reduce this cost by appealing their property tax bill. This article explains how in four steps.

1. Check if you are overassessed

Your property assessment is the key factor that determines how much you pay in property taxes, because that is the value the property tax rate is applied to. The lower your assessment, the lower your property tax bill.

There are two easy ways to determine if you are overassessed. The first requires you to look at how much properties similar to yours are assessed. If a property that is identical to yours is assessed at a lower amount than yours, it's a good indicator you are over assessed. The second requires you to look at how much similar properties to yours were sold for. If the true market price is lower than the assessment, your property could be overvalued by the assessor.

2. Get the information you need to appeal

If you are confident your property is overassessed, you need to collect some additional information that is specific to your property. First, you need to figure out which of the 38 townships in Cook County your property is in. Once this is determined, check on the Cook County website when your township's appeal period opens. This information will let you know what the deadline is for submitting your appeal.

3. Determine what type of appeal to submit.

There are three types of appeals you can submit: comparable sales, lack of uniformity or economic value.

Comparable sales requires you to submit evidence that similar properties have been sold for less than your assessment.

Lack of uniformity requires you to submit evidence that similar properties are being assessed differently.

Economic value requires you to submit three years of income and expense information, but this type of appeal only applies to income producing properties.

4. Submit and wait

After you have gathered your evidence, submit it to the Cook County Assessor's Office. It's critical that you review all of the applicable appeal rules prior to submission, because failure to comply can result in an appeal denial.

Depending on the appeal backlog, it can take several weeks or months for the Assessor's Office to provide you with a decision.