This year, property owners all over Chicagoland are receiving notices from the County Assessor indicating their property’s new assessment. While all property owners should consider appealing their new assessment to lower their future property taxes, you should consider filing your tax appeal as a group if you live in a condominium, townhome or homeowner association.
This article will cover the 5 most commonly asked questions regarding group appeals and the property tax appeal process in general.
- What is a Group Appeal?
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 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.
- Why Appeal as a Group?
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.
- Will an Appeal Actually Reduce Tax Bills?
Let’s look at some math: 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.
- In Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County (also known as the Collar Counties), all property regardless of type (i.e. residential or commercial) are assessed at 33.33% of fair market value. Therefore, a $300,000 condominium unit (residential or commercial) in the Collar Counties would carry an assessment of $100,000.
To calculate the tax bill, the County Treasurer multiplies the assessment, the equalizer(s) and the local tax rate by each other (Taxes = Assessment x Equalizers x Local Tax Rate).
So, if you believe that the County Assessor’s value opinion is wrong, as reflected in the property tax assessment, you should absolutely challenge it by means of an appeal.
- How Do Appeals Work?
In Cook County, property tax assessment appeals start at the Assessor’s Office. Cook County affords taxpayers the ability to file formal complaint within 30 days of the township publishing the new assessment.
In Lake County and the other Chicagoland Collar Counties, the process is more informal at the Assessor level. The local township assessors will discuss lowering the assessment at the taxpayer’s request when the assessments are published, but no actual appeal is filed.
If the Assessor’s decision on the appeal is not satisfactory, taxpayers can subsequently appeal their property tax assessment to the County Board of Review. The Board of Review appeal process is more formal, with the offices enforcing stricter appeal rules and holding scheduled hearings on assessment appeals.
Once the Board of Review issues a decision, the taxpayer has the option to pursue an even further appeal to either the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) or the Circuit Court of the County.
Note: these highest-level appeals can take years to adjudicate, and Associations very rarely choose to go down this path.
- Does the 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.
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, or townhome association receives 2019 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.
For over 35 years, KSN has been a legal resource for condominium, townhome, and homeowner associations throughout the Chicagoland area. We have multiple offices including downtown Chicago, Mundelein, and Naperville. Please call 855-537-0500 or visit www.ksnlaw.com.
This article is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By reading this article you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the article author. This article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. © 2019 Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit, A Professional Corporation.