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posted: 7/26/2013 10:58 AM

Everything to know about the propety tax assessment process

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  • Lake County Chief County Assessment Officer Marty Paulson

      Lake County Chief County Assessment Officer Marty Paulson

  • Lake County property owners will be receiving their assessment notices over the next few weeks.

      Lake County property owners will be receiving their assessment notices over the next few weeks.
    photo illustration courtesy of chief county assess

 
Daily Herald report

Those blue assessment notices that list the values on which real estate tax bills are calculated are on their way to Lake County property owners.

Don't agree with the finding? Property owners can appeal the values, although the rules and procedures for assessment appeal hearings have changed. There is a variety of information, resources and assistance available to taxpayers regarding the assessment procedure and the appeal process.

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The Chief County Assessment Office and Board of Review have moved to a new location at 415 Washington St., Suite 201, in Waukegan.

The CCAO and Board of Review will conduct all of its activities at this location for the next 18 to 24 months. This building was the former Sears store in downtown Waukegan. There is plenty of visitor parking available.

Visit http://assessor.lakecountyil.gov for information regarding the property assessment process.

Martin Paulson, the chief county assessment officer, shares the ins and outs of the process and how taxpayers are affected.

Q: When are assessment notices going to be mailed this year?

A: The CCAO will begin publishing 2013 assessment changes starting July 23 and mailings will continue through August this year. Information on publications and assessment notice mailings also appears on the office website at: http://assessor.lakecountyil.gov/Board-Of-Review/Pages/Filing-Deadlines. aspx.

The Board of Review has made some changes to their rules and procedures for assessment appeal hearings. One misconception is that a property owner would need to have an attorney to file an assessment appeal.

Q: Can a taxpayer still file an assessment appeal?

A: Yes, in nearly all instances a taxpayer can file the assessment appeal without the assistance of an attorney. The county provides a tremendous amount of property assessment-related information on the CCAO website.

The Board of Review has tools that can be used for searching for comparable property information and completing forms on the office website.

Corporations and limited liability companies will need to utilize an attorney in the assessment appeal for their properties.

Q: Is an attorney the only professional who can represent a party at the Board of Review?

A: Yes. In Illinois, an attorney is the only professional who can represent a party in a judicial or quasi-judicial setting like the Board of Review process.

Q: I have sought the assistance of a real estate broker when I have gone through the assessment appeal process in recent years. How can these types of licensed professionals help me in an assessment appeal with the Lake County Board of Review in 2013?

A: Illinois licensed real estate brokers, real estate appraisers, accountants, and other professionals may assist you with the preparation of case evidence and testify at hearings before the Board of Review as expert witnesses.

These professionals cannot represent a taxpayer, or file an assessment appeal cases on behalf of any party seeking relief from the Lake County Board of Review.

Those not qualified to practice law in Illinois may not appear at hearings before the board in a representative capacity. Non-attorneys may not appear at the hearing without the taxpayer or the taxpayer's attorney.

In the instance where an appeal is filed by a non-attorney agent, the materials provided will be returned to the agent. Filing deadlines will not be extended for appellants who utilize non-attorney agents.

Q: Can I e-file my assessment appeal with the Board of Review?

A: Online filing of appeals will be available in Lake County in 2013. The online filing application allows for the uploading of evidence, such as the Lake County Comparable Property Grid, an ad valorem appraisal and a legal brief.

Filers will receive an email confirmation that their case has been submitted within one business day of the filing being completed. It is important to note the online appeal application depends upon the successful operation of many electronic systems, each beyond the control of the Board of Review.

Lake County cannot guarantee the availability of the online application, and the board highly recommends appellants not wait until a filing deadline to submit their appeals online.

Filing deadlines are fixed and not extended if, for some reason, the online application is unavailable.

Q: How should I go about evaluating my 2013 property assessment valuation?

A: We recommended these steps to review your assessment valuation:

• Review all of the information on the assessment notice.

• Visit assessor.lakecountyil.gov to review assessment information, including property characteristics, comparable property information, and the e-filing process.

• Discuss any questions on your assessment value or property information with your township assessor's office.

• If an assessment appeal is in order, prepare evidence by using the Lake County Comparable Grid at assessor.lakecountyil.gov, and other materials such as appraisals or sales documents.

• Complete an assessment appeal form (by paper, or electronically using the e-filing system) and submit with supporting evidence to the Board of Review by the prescribed deadline.

• You can attend the hearing in person, by telephone, or submit case materials and ask the Board of Review to decide the case based on the evidence provided. This is the most efficient mode for an assessment appeal. Most cases can be resolved without in-person or telephone hearing.

Q: How does an assessment appeal hearing work?

A: At the outset of a hearing, the parties to a case are sworn in, appeal hearings are conducted in the following manner: The appellant presents testimony regarding the assessment and answers any questions from the board.

Next, the township assessor or a representative from his/her office is expected to be present to give evidence and testimony concerning the property and its assessment.

Each party presents closing or rebuttal remarks. Board members then deliberate, consider the evidence, testimony and rebuttal, and announce their decision at the close of the hearing.

Hearings are scheduled at 15-minute intervals.

Q: What website tools exist to help me with an assessment appeal?

A: • Lake County Comparable Program -- allows the taxpayer to review their property information, search for comparable properties and complete the Lake County Comparable Property Grid.

• Online Appeal Filing Application -- the appellant can e-file their assessment appeal and various documents pertinent to an assessment appeal case.

• Lake County Maps Online -- aerial photography and mapmaking ability.

Q: Are there any ways a taxpayer can get assistance with their assessment value related questions?

A: • Have a conversation with your elected township assessor's office.

• Attend a Tax Assessment Help Center to receive one-on-one assistance from the Chief County Assessment Office.

• Talk to a taxpayer advocate with the Chief County Assessment Office 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling (847) 377-2050 or visiting their office, 415 Washington St -- Level E, Suite 201, Waukegan.

• Utilize all of the web tools and resources at the Chief County Assessment Office and Board of Review websites: assessor.lakecountyil.gov; boardofreview.lakecountyil.gov.

Q: If I provided appropriate evidence, can my township assessor adjust my assessment after it is published and noticed?

A: Yes, the township assessor's office has the ability to modify the assessment value after the assessment notice has been mailed. The assessor can request a valuation change be approved by the Board of Review. These value change requests of an assessor are submitted to the Board of Review electronically.

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