As home values decrease, so do property assessments. Just as assessments of property values increased during the real estate boom, now they should be lower. And a lower property assessment means you'll pay less in property taxes. If your property taxes haven't declined along with your house's value, you should take action: Appeal the property assessment.
YOU CAN FIGHT CITY HALL
Property tax increases are determined by home values, not set by local governments. Different formulas are used to figure property taxes, but all depend on a home's assessed value. Whatever value is used, it's multiplied by the local tax rate to compute the property's final bill. As home values decrease, so do their assessed values. Homeowners end up paying less even though the tax rate stays the same.
The National Taxpayers Union, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group whose goal is to lower taxes, estimates that as much as 60 percent of taxable property in the United States is over-assessed. But despite the growing tax bills, only half of homeowners protest their property assessments. That means many may be paying more property taxes than necessary.
Many taxpayers fail to fight because they don't understand the process (it is complicated) or because they are not able to do the research and provide evidence to prove the assessment is wrong. Some people also are uncomfortable with the negotiating process. Instead, they opt for the curse and pay system. If you do not have the time to appeal your tax assessment, you should consider hiring me to do it for you. I only charge a percentage of the first year savings and you only pay if there is a tax reduction.
My experience brings these skills to your case: detailed knowledge of the process, timing and people involved; detailed real estate and real estate property tax knowledge; negotiating expertise. These are the tools you need to have on your side to be successful in your appeal.
It is important to understand when you are attempting to reduce the amount of property tax which you pay what it is that you can influence and what you cannot so that you have a higher chance of success. First, you cannot reduce the property tax rate. This is set and applied uniformly to property types in the tax area. You can only influence the assssement. The second thing to be understood is that most of the property tax assessment systems are not aimed at being fair per se. There will be things in the property tax assessment which you will consider to be unfair. However, it is pretty much the view of the property assessor that so long as the "unfairness" is applied equitably to all properties then it is no longer unfair. This is again a subtle, but important concept to understand in order to have success in reducing propety taxes.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING IF YOU WANT TO REDUCE NEXT YEAR'S TAXES
Property values are reassessed once a year either by using a multiplier provided by the County or by an actual reassessment at the Township level. The local information is all aggregated and sent to the County. In late fall, the County closes it's books and then publishes the assessed values for all of the properties in its jurisdiction.. The taxpayer has 30 days to file an appeal. Otherwise, the property taxes are fixed and the taxpayer must pay them. If your request for an appeal arrives at the assessor's office even a day after the protest deadline, you're out of luck and will have to wait until the following year before you can appeal. It is not possible to reduce your property taxes retroactively. You cannot protest past taxes and get any relief.
I do not wait until the property tax assessment books are closed. In fact, if you think that your property assessment is too high, we should be working on that RIGHT NOW because the 30 day appeal deadline falls over the Thanksgiving and holiday shopping season. The people who handle tax assessment appeals are swamped at this time and they actually would appreciate working with me right now to address incorrect assessments.
HOW MY PROPERTY TAX APPEAL PROCESS WORKS
INITIAL CONSULTATION TO DETERMINE IF THERE IS A BASIS FOR A PROPERTY TAX PROTEST
Call or email me with your basic home information including address, number of bedrooms and baths, basement (yes/no - finished/unifinished), garage, lot size (if you know it for sure, otherwise I will look it up) and information regarding the general condition. Please include your contact information. To get things started, fill in this form form.
In addition to getting an estimate of the value of the home itself, you will recieve valuable neighborhood data about homes for sale and recent real estate sales in you neighborhood. If I am to act as your property tax appeal consultant, it is very important that you provide to me the detail I need to know if I am to launch a successful property tax protest.
I will review the tax records including the individual property tax card and determine if your case has a chance to be successful. If your chances look good, we will meet to get more specific information about the property.
Recently, billboards have popped up for a local tax service. When you visit their website they offer to sell you a guide and help you get comparable properties for a fee of $295. On average, you would have to get at a maket valuation reduction of at least $50,000 to cover this fixed cost. Remember, the tax assessor will not accept foreclosure values as comparables. This means even if you bought a foreclosure, that value will not be considered. I will consult with you for free about your chances of success and I will only take on your appeal if there is a good chance of success and you will only pay if you actually save.
COLLECT THE FACTS
We need to start now, not wait for your assessment. It's time to build your case. It's not enough to bemoan how high your taxes are. We need cold, hard facts. I will visit your property and gather any information you might have as well as possibly take pictures.
Assessments can be appealed on two grounds: a mistake in the assessment of your house or an assessment at a higher rate than comparable homes. It is important to understand exactly which homes can be used as comparables for the purpose of arguing your case. Each area is broken down into neighborhoods and often even into construction types. Using home information outside your area will waste both your time and the assessors' time (remember you want this person to help you so wasting their time is a bad idea).
PREPARE THE REPORT & MEET WITH THE ASSESSOR
Using a variety of different sources, I will prepare a report using 5 to 10 comparable properties from the specific area in your neighborhood which the assesor has defined as being acceptable. This report will include the imprtant information we gathered and pictures. As a Realtor, I have access to many different sources of information and because I do this kind of work every day, I will simply be in a better position to negotiate your case.
Next, I will arrange a one-on-one, informal meeting. Sometimes simply pointing out the facts can be enough for the assessor to lower an assessment. Just be aware that when I meet with your assessor, it's a negotiation. You may still end up with a higher rate than you'd like, but one that is lower than the assessor's original appraisal.
WHAT IF THE ASSESSOR WON'T CHANGE THE ASSESSMENT?
If the assessor takes a strong position that your property is properly assessed, there is an appeal process at the County level. the County Board makes it pretty clear that they would like to see disagreements solved at the assessors level. Because I only charge if I am successful in getting your assessment reduced, my process is designed to determine the likelihood of success in advance. However, I will not have success in negotiating every case and so you are free to appeal at a higher level. You can either pursue this yourself or I can provide the name of an attorney who you can hire to pursue this on your behalf.
I understand the process to get a property tax appeal in Addison, Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, Elmhurst,Glen Ellyn, Hinsdale, Lisle, Naperville Oak Brook, Oak Brook Terrace, Villa Park, Wheaton, Willowbrook, Woodridge
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