Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been massive declines in state sales tax and local income tax revenues. In order to restore operating budgets, states are looking to property taxes to close the gaps. Illinois is no exception.
Illinois property owners already pay the second highest property taxes in the United States. In 2021, property taxpayers in Chicago will bear an additional almost $100 million burden. The increase, approved by the Chicago City’s Council in late 2019, will be in addition to the new Chicago property valuations.
This article will explain the Chicago property tax assessment schedule and the tax appeal process for condominium, homeowner, and townhome community associations.
How does Cook County handle property taxes?
All properties in Cook County are reassessed on a triennial schedule. Every three years, the new valuations – along with appeals, exemptions, local tax levies, and assessments of nearby properties – determine the amount of future property tax bills.
For the purposes of reassessment scheduling, the 30 townships within Cook County are divided into three groups: north/northwest suburbs, south/southwest suburbs, and the City of Chicago.
Let’s focus on the City of Chicago
The townships of Hyde Park, Jefferson, Lake, Lakeview, North Chicago, Rogers Park, West Chicago, and South Chicago all fall into the City of Chicago grouping.
They were reassessed in 2015 and 2018. They will be reassessed again in 2021. For reference, here are some neighborhoods that are located within the nine City of Chicago Townships:
- Hyde Park Township – includes Hyde Park, Kenwood, Woodlawn, Avalon Park, Burnside, Pullman, South Shore, South Chicago, East Side, Hegewisch, Calumet Heights, South Deering, and Riverdale neighborhoods
- Jefferson Township – includes Jefferson Park, North Park, Albany Park, Irving Park, Avondale, Hermosa, Belmont-Cragin, Montclare, Portage Park, and parts of Logan Square. Sections of the Norridge, Norwood Park, and Harwood Heights suburbs are also located in Jefferson Township.
- Lake Township – includes Englewood
- Lakeview Township – includes Uptown, Lincoln Square, North Center, Wrigleyville, and Lincoln Park
- North Chicago Township – includes Old Town, Gold Coast, Cabrini-Green, Magnificent Mile, and River North neighborhoods
- Rogers Park Township – includes Rogers Park and West Ridge
- West Chicago Township – includes West Town, West Loop, Pilsen, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, Little Italy, Heart of Chicago, Lawndale, and Greektown
- South Chicago Township – includes Chinatown, Grant Park, Prairie Shores, and Motor Row District
Determining Chicago property values
The property tax assessment represents what the County Assessor thinks your property is worth, based on a designated assessment level. In Cook County, residences are assessed at 10% of fair market value. This means that a condominium unit or any residence within an association worth $300,000 should have a property tax assessment at $30,000.
If you believe that the County Assessor’s value opinion is wrong, as reflected in the property tax assessment, you can absolutely challenge it by means of an appeal.
How do property tax appeals work for Chicago community associations?
A group appeal is where all (or many) of an association’s units file a single property tax appeal. Illinois law allows a condominium association’s board members to file a single appeal on behalf all the Association’s unit owners. To file as a group in a townhome or homeowners association, individual owners must formally opt in, granting the Board the authority to include their units in one association group appeal.
Associations should appeal as a group for several reasons.
- First and foremost, County Assessors prefer one appeal, over dozens, or even hundreds, of owners filing separately. It’s administratively easier to process and the favored method.
- Second, the County Assessors place a single value on the entire building or development and reviewing that value is facilitated by an appeal including all units.
- Third, the County Assessor has a duty to uniformly assess all units within an association. The group appeal enables the County Assessor to meet this obligation.
Does the community association have to hire an attorney?
To file a group appeal, yes. Associations are not considered “persons” under Illinois law and thus need a licensed attorney to represent them in any legal proceeding. This includes property tax assessment appeals. Further, the Board of Review, PTAB and Court require Associations to be represented by licensed attorneys in an assessment appeal before their offices.
Unfortunately, hiring a “tax consultant” or having one of the board members file an appeal on behalf of the entire association would result in the appeal being voided and might cost the association the ability to re-file with legal counsel if the appeal deadline has expired.
Condominium, homeowner, and townhome community associations need skilled legal counsel to steer them through the property tax appeal process. Not only do association assessment appeals require careful analysis and preparation, but there are several agencies and levels in which to appeal. Each one comes with its own caveats and pitfalls.
When your condominium, homeowner (HOA), or townhome association receives your property tax assessment notices, do not hesitate to contact our law firm. Our experienced attorneys have saved our clients over $100 million since 2015 by successfully reducing their property tax assessments. Please call 855-537-0500 or visit www.ksnlaw.com.
Since 1983, KSN has been a legal resource for condominium, homeowner, and townhome associations. We have four office locations, serving hundreds of clients and thousands of communities throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Our attorneys are also licensed in Arizona, Florida, and Missouri.
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