Check your assessment for accuracy; it could save you money
Are you still reeling from your tax bill?
If you think your home's assessed value is too high, you can file an appeal either on your own or with the help of a third party who will handle the appeal process for you.
Appealing your tax assessment can be a daunting task. It's a research project that requires attention to detail and a commitment to finding the best possible information about your property and comparable properties that is available, said Mark Nunez, CCU Real Estate Loan Officer, with Consumers Credit Union based in Lake County with service centers in Lake County and Northwest Cook County.
After receipt of the tax assessment notice, you have 30 days to file an appeal. Remember, you are appealing the assessed value of your property, not the tax bill.
To file an appeal, you must follow instructions on the appeal form and gather evidence of recent comparable sales with the goal of proving that a home has a lower value than was recorded. You can get this information from a local real estate broker or the assessor's database. Include photos and write up a brief report.
The following situations may result in the tax assessor placing too high a value on your house and you will have a legitimate complaint if you can support any of these claims.
• Inaccurate or incomplete information. Assessment of your home is based on inaccurate information, such as an incorrect measurement of your home or lot or you have a one-car garage, but the county thinks you have a two-car garage.
• Lack of uniformity. Your home assessment is not in line with the assessed value of other similar homes in the area. This is the most common argument made.
• Overvaluation. The assessed value of your home is not in line with the market value of your home considering what you paid for it or the price at which similar homes have sold. This may be a more difficult argument to make than lack of uniformity. Or, if the assessor's market value is higher than actual market value, you can prove this with a professional appraisal.
If filing a tax appeal isn't the DIY project you had in mind, you have the option to engage the services of a law firm that specializes in the tax appeal process. They'll file the appeal on your behalf, usually on a contingency basis.
Here are the benefits of using a law firm to help you reduce your property taxes.
• Many people don't have the time to prepare an appeal before the deadline, which is less than 30 days after receipt of their tax assessment notice. If you miss the deadline, it is a missed opportunity to appeal for that year.
• The value of a home can fluctuate so frequently that many homeowners can be paying too much in property taxes. They may not even realize they are being overtaxed unless they have an assessment review by a professional
• The law regarding challenges to property tax assessments is complicated, and the facts of each case are different.
• They will fact check the assessor's work and point out any errors in the description of your property. For example, it may include extra features you don't have, which can drive up the value of your home.
• It saves property owners the frustration of handling the protest, which includes completing legal forms and gathering evidence to present to the tax assessor to prove that the property has a lower value than was recorded.
• Having a team of professionals helping with an appeal increases the possibility of success. A tax attorney is skilled at presenting an appeal and gets better results than a homeowner that has no experience in this profession.
• The legal team handles all aspects of the appeal, including in-depth research, data and evidence gathering, case preparation and appeal submission, along with tax attorney representation.
• The team has a strong relationship with county assessors and years of experience working alongside decision-makers. These relationships are an important component of ensuring the client is being fairly assessed.
• There is a minimal upfront cost compared with the amount that could be saved each year.
This article is sponsored by Consumers Credit Union.
For more information, contact Mark Nunez, CCU Real Estate Loan Officer, at (847) 672-3416.