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Article updated: 3/15/2013 12:00 PM

Lake County panel considering changes to tax-appeal process

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A proposal to limit how Lake County property owners can appeal their tax assessments is gaining opposition ahead of a planned vote Monday.

The Lake County board of review is set to discuss a procedural change that would prevent property owners from being represented by real estate appraisers, accountants or consultants during the appeals process.

Under the new rules, people could represent themselves or hire lawyers to speak for them.

Proponents say allowing people who aren't lawyers to represent property owners in these matters encourages the unauthorized practice of law.

The Illinois Bar Association, a state group for lawyers, supports the change, officials said.

Opponents -- particularly consultants who make a living on these cases -- say the proposed change would keep a group of experienced professionals out of the process.

The change also eliminates an affordable option for people who want to contest assessments, claim critics like Curtis Perlman, founder of a company called Lake County Appeal.

"A property tax appeal will probably cost you double what it does now," Perlman said in an email to clients this week.

Under state law, the board of review holds hearings to determine if a property is overassessed or underassessed, following written appeals.

The appeals process actually begins with township assessors. In 2012, 73 percent of the cases that went to the board from local assessors were conducted without any legal or professional representation for the property owner, according to Lake County statistics.

Cook, Kane and Will counties already have limitations similar to those proposed in Lake County, officials said.

Property tax consultant Karen Krug said she's outraged by the proposal. Many of her Lake County clients won't file appeals on their own, nor would they consider paying an attorney to do the work, she said in an email to the Daily Herald.

Lake County Chief Assessment Officer Martin Paulsen was not available for comment Friday.

The board of review is set to meet at 10 a.m. Monday at the county government building, 18 N. County St., Waukegan.

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