Property Tax Appeal



By Alvin "CHIP" Wagner, III, SRA, ASA, IFA, SCRP

One of a homeowner's largest annual expenses may be their Property Taxes. Paying taxes is critical to provide the services in our country, our state, our county, and the town we live in. It helps to fund our infrastructure such as bridges and roads (new, maintenance, repair, and replacement); services (police and fire protection as well as parks and libraries) and don't forget about funding our schools. The governing bodies in the State of Illinois have a Township and County Assessment system. Your Assessor is the appraiser for the township that you live in, and he or she assigns the value of your property based on Mass Appraisal Techniques. In most areas in Illinois, your home is assessed at 1/3 (or 33.33%) of your home's market value. In most Illinois offices, the Assessor has Deputy Assessors who may also have the authority to make some appeal decisions. Call your Assessor to find out. There is a short timeline to appeal your property taxes - usually a 30-day window after the following year's assessment is published.

Occasionally, your home's value may be overstated or understated by the Assessor. This benefits nobody and your Assessor has taken a pledge and oath to be fair and honest. They will most likely attempt to work with you and make it right. Remember, your assessor is the messenger - he/she does not set your taxes, they set your home's value. Other governing bodies in your County set indiviudal district's tax rates, less any exemptions to apply to your assessed value; that leads to the amount of property taxes that you are required to pay.

The Assessor's job is to ensure that the tax burden is equitably and uniformly distributed among all taxpayers within a taxing district. That being said, you have the right to Appeal your taxes. Your first stop will be working directly with your Assessor, and if they do not meet your expectations in your appeal, you may request a hearing at the County Board of Review. There are several ways to support your appeal to your Assessor that the taxpayer should be aware of.

1. Recent purchase below Assessor's Market Value - If you recently purchased your property at a price lower than the Assessor's opinion of value, sitting down with the assessor and providing your closing statement (called an HUD-1), and/or the purchase contract and mortgage appraisal may benefit you, as your Assessor may reconsider.

2. Listed below Assessor's Market Value - Another consideration that you may use to appeal your property taxes is that you may be currently trying to sell your home, actively marketing it at a price below the Assessor's value. It would be prudent to work with the Assessor to lower your taxes as your home may be more marketable to a potential purchaser of your property.

3. Tax Appeal Appraisal - THIS IS WHERE I MAY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU. A recent real estate appraisal may be a way to support your tax appeal. The initial cost of the appraisal may seem high, but consider the potential savings you may have if you successfully lower your property taxes. The appraisal must be completed following specific criteria, most commonly with a date as of January 1 of the tax year. This is important because if you have an appraisal for another purpose and another intended use and user (such as mortgage refinancing) the appraisal may not likely be able to be used.

4. Sales Comparables - another way to appeal your property taxes based on the assessor's market value of your home would be to do your own research that an Appraiser might otherwise do for you. You will need to find the most comparable sales of similar properties from your neighborhood (at least 3). These sales should support the value that you believe your home should be and have occurred in the previous 3 years. Also keep in mind that the appraiser's license will not allow them to act as an advocate for you, nor will they provide an appraisal based on a pre-determined (or needed) value. The appraiser certifies that they are a disinterested third party to the transaction.

5. Uniformity Comparables - another way to appeal your taxes is if you believe that your assessed value is out of line with the assessed values of other similar homes in your neighborhood. Again, you would need to do your own research, and the more that you can find the better. They should be similar properties and relevant comparisons.

Keep in mind, you should plan to work with the appraiser as soon as possible. Because a Tax Appeal Appraisal has a very small window of completion (30 days to appeal your property taxes), appraisers may or may not have the time to meet your deadlines. Scheduling and completion is often the greatest barrier to appealing your taxes with a professional appraisal. The fee quoted by the appraiser may be higher because of the "rushed service" necessary. Successful and experienced appraisers may have a backload of work and deadlines to meet with other clients. Also keep in mind the fee quoted is for the appraisal, if you require the appraiser to appear before your Assessor or a Board of Review on your behalf, additional fees for time involved in the appearance may apply.

The 2020 article titled "Appraisers are Valueable Resource in Property Tax Appeals, Appraisal Institute Says" offers additional guidance on appealing your home's property taxes with a professional real estate appraisal..

Our fee for a Tax Appeal appraisal typically starts at $425, which may pay for itself in many circumstances. We have many years of experience in conducting residential real estate appraisals for private parties to appeal their taxes. That fee includes an appraisal in a PDF document. Our service area may be tighter during the short tax appeal season. For a consultation, please call our corporate office at 630/416-6556. You may also contact us via e-mail.

Chip Wagner is President of A.L. Wagner Appraisal Group, Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants, Naperville, IL.

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