Cook County Tax Bills Mailed November 10—What’s in Store?

This has been a strange year for property tax in Cook County, Illinois, and it looks like next year will be even stranger. Cook County has just mailed out the second installment 2009 tax bills, which are due on December 13. For the 2010 tax year, so many changes are in the works, especially for commercial properties, that it is impossible to predict what your bill will look like next year.

In 2009, every home in Cook County was reassessed. Normally, you would receive new assessments every three years, since Cook County is split into three districts. This year, the county decided to throw a bone to distressed homeowners with sharply-declining home values by sending out reassessments for all Cook County homes (even though the north suburbs were not scheduled to be reassessed until 2010 and the south and west suburbs were not scheduled to be reassessed until 2011). The idea is that Cook County wants to be fair by letting all homeowners get reductions in their assessments due to the continuing drop in home values. As Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan put it, “After careful analysis of market sales and foreclosure data, we determined these townships should not have to wait until their next reassessment for the impact to be reflected.”

On the other hand, commercial property assessments were not uniformly lowered, and only commercial properties in the City of Chicago were reassessed for 2010. In fact, many commercial property owners will see increases in their assessed value, from 15-percent to as much as 50-percent, and increases in assessed value can lead to big tax bills. These huge increases aren’t always obvious on the face of the assessment notice—Cook County’s notices showed no change in the gross assessment for many commercial properties, but other changes in assessment percentage, etc., will result in big bills. In many cases, commercial property owners can lower their tax bills by proving that the Assessor has overestimated the income they receive from their properties.

Even if your residential or commercial property tax assessment was lowered, remember that local governments still need as much or more money than ever; you may be paying more in property taxes next year, even after a reduced assessment, because you may have to pay a larger portion of the levy than before.

Filing a residential property tax is relatively simple—simply file online here, or print out a paper form to file by mail here. Usually appeals have to be filed within thirty days of receiving your home’s “Notice of Proposed Assessed Valuation.”

If you are considering filing an appeal on your commercial property’s assessment, please contact Lynam & Associates.

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