While the downturn in the real estate market has possibly taken a chunk out of your home’s value, it is unlikely that your tax assessment has gone down. During the boom, as your home gained in value, it made sense that your assessment would increase. Prices have flat lined or lowered in most areas so it doesn’t make sense anymore that your taxes should only go upwards. But what’s a homeowner do to? Well don’t expect the assessor to give you any help!
Yes, the tax man cometh! For those in my readership area of Schaumburg, Elk Grove, Palatine and Hanover Township this is your reassessment year baby! So what’s a girl to do you say?
The good news is that getting your tax assessment lowered is possible. With a little patience it is actually easy to do. Here are a couple of tips:
Review your home assessment for errors. Find out how your district levies property taxes - on 100% of the market value or some fraction of it - by calling the assessor’s office. Especially at 70% or 80% of value, called fractional values, owners may not realize their property tax assessments are out of line. Next, go to the assessor’s office or website to see the property information that lists the details of your home. Check each item for mistakes, from the number of bathrooms to the number of square feet. Valuing properties is “a very inexact science” and when it comes to the assessors records I’m being terribly generous here! But when paper records were transferred to computers, many errors were made – or retained. If there’s a mechanical error, the assessor may offer a property tax reassessment on the spot.
Compare assessments for similar homes in your neighborhood. Pull the addresses, then the tax numbers (PIN’s) for neighbors who have similar homes or similar models in terms of age, style and features. If the assessments on similar properties are significantly lower – 10% or more– you have a good case based on uniformity.
Build a case for reassessment. The rules for property tax appeals vary from place to place, but no matter where you are you’ll need evidence. Property info and Web-page printouts are helpful, and photos can be especially useful if you’re comparing the condition of your home with others. Most photos of selected homes are available on the assessors website now. Consider getting an independent appraisal as well, but check the rules in your jurisdiction before laying out a couple hundred dollars or more to pay for one. If you’ve had a recent refinance from your mortgage company, they would have given you an appraisal and similar homes such as yours would have been used. Check these homes and use these for your appeal. The assessor will not take the appraisal but at least it will save you a little leg work by supplying you with the address and the tax numbers (PIN) of like-kind homes.
The number one mistake that I find that my sellers/buyers/homeowners make is not taking advantage of their homeowner’s exemption! This is an exemption that gives you a tax break because you are using your home as your primary residence and not renting it out. You receive $5000 off of your equalized assessed valuation of your home because you live there– that’spretty great. BUT – the assessor is just not going to give it to you – that would just be too easy. In Cook County a large and costly production is made for all homeowners. A ‘card’ or a ‘booklet’ has been previously mailed to the owner and you must sign and return either the postcard or the booklet before your exemption will take place. In the last few years they have carried over these exemptions but if you are a new homeowner/purchaser you must be sure that the previous owners filed for their exemption! This will save you hundreds of dollars every year in taxes! If you say, naw too much work to get that exemption thingy – please – take down my address and mail me the $400 to $800 that the county is taking from you! I will be appreciative!
DuPage County Residents– You will contact the Dupage Supervisor of Assessments and things are much, much easier for you. No postcards or booklets, you may call or visit the assessor and state your exemption. You also do not have to re-sign any ridiculous cards. They seem to be at least a little normal.
List of Assessor “Buzz Words”
P.I.N. – Property Index Number, think of it as your homes social security number. It will never change.
Geographic Mapping – AKA your property information at the assessor’s website. Click "Start Interactive Mapping" which will take you to begin your search. Enter your PIN or your street address. This will start the Parcel Search where you will find information on your home.
Equalization Factor - (their wording) a number determined each year by the Illinois Dept. of Revenue to even out or "equalize" assessed values, by county, across the state. It is also called the multiplier. No one could ever explain this to me well enough so I just call it the "guess taxfactor". That pretty much sums it up.
HELP – there is no such word in their vocabulary. When you ask for this, they roll around on the floor in hysterical laughter. Remember, patience is required, you are dealing with a governmental body.
Sense of Humor – see above comment.
Tylenol – carry at least 2 with you at all times thruout the process. Keep the bottle within easy reach.
Vodka – see above comment.
Everyone loves a personal success story so I have two to pass along!
Story #1 - The first was from a townhome that I owned in Hoffman Estates many years ago. The property information sheet arrived one day in the mail from Cook County that stated what upgrades my home had. Nope – sorry no basement Mr. Assessor. Nope – sorry no fireplace in this place either. Ohhh look – the square footage is from my neighbors Brighton Model not mine –that’s just swell. Went to the assessor immediately with my floor plan and got things changed and lowered my tax bill.
Story #2 – New construction Bartlett, first tax bill arrived in the mail and I almost fainted when it said we had 3800+ square feet. My first thought was, they must be counting the front and back yard too! Took another trusty floor plan down to the assessor and found out that the builder(Pulte) made the mistake reporting the information to the county. Yeah sure, thanks. Story did have a happy ending because the initial tax bill was $5200 and it was reduced to $3800.
It’s never too late to do something about an unfair tax bill. The final 2007 bills will arrive in the mail soon and I’m sure that with this increase there is going to be a lot of screamin’ goin’ on.
This is just a small sampling of the suggestions that you might consider. Thank you for reading this short report, good luck and stay vigilant!
Lyn Sims at RE/MAX Suburban (847)230-7324
Northwest Suburban Chicago Homes in Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates, Elk Grove Village, Roselle, Medinah, Itasca, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Hanover Park, Bartlett, Streamwood, Elgin areas.
|To calculate||$100,000||Market Value 1|
|your property||X .16||Residential Assessment Level (16%) 2|
|tax bill, use||$16,000||Assessment Valuation|
|the following||X 2||Sample Equalization Factor 3|
|example for a||$32,000||Equalized Assessed Value|
|home with an||- $5,000||Homeowner Exemption 4|
|estimated||$27,000||Adjusted Equalized Assessed Value|
|market value||X .10||Sample Tax Rate (10%) 5|
|of $100,000.||$2,700||Yearly Tax Bill|
1 Market Value – what your property couldsell for on the open market.
2 Assessment Level – the rate at whichproperty is assessed. Single family homes, condos, co-ops, apartmentbuildings and mixed-use properties, six units and under, are assessedat 16%.
3 Equalization Factor – a numberdetermined each year by the Illinois Department of Revenue to even outor “equalize” assessed values, by county, acrossthe state. It is also called the multiplier.
4 Homeowner Exemption – the 7% expandedexemption increased the exemption amount from a minimum of $5,000 inEqualized Assessed Value (EAV) to a maximum of amount that changes witheach tax year. The amount of the exemption will vary based on the valueof the home and the amount of the assessment increase.
5 Tax Rate – the result of dividing thespending request of a particular local government or school district bythe total equalized valuation of all properties in that area.The tax rate can stay the same , increase or decrease when taxingbodies request more money. Always review dollars levied, not just taxrates. Actual tax rates vary across Cook County and are determined bylocal government spending needs and requests.
EasiestStrategy to lowering your property taxes©2008 Lyn Sims -RealEstateConsumerInfo.com All data andinformation provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. Lyn Sims makes norepresentations as toaccuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability or validity of anyinformationon this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, ordelays ininformation or any losses, injuries, or damages arising fromit’s display or use.
8/12/2008- Info compiled from the Cook County Assessor, DuPage County Assessor.