The recently passed school funding bill is going to increase property taxes in Cook County, most significantly in Chicago. Within the city, the amounts homeowners owe on their property taxes each year could increase by as much as 10%. The increases are smaller in the suburbs around the city, ranging from 3.9% to 6.5%, but will still exact hundreds in taxes from their owners every year.
Businesses aren’t faring much better, with city commercial property going up by over 9%. While a few areas will see taxes on commercial properties go down slightly, the overall result is higher tax obligations throughout the county.
Renters may not escape this either since the extra taxes paid by their landlords will almost inevitably be passed on to them in the form of higher rent.
So what are property owners to do? Here, we’ll look over a few ways you can survive the property tax increase in the coming years.
Prepare for the Assessor
The taxes you pay are ultimately determined by the value of your property, and the amount they increase or decrease is dependent on how much your property’s value goes up or down in relation to that of your neighbors. That means, in theory, if homes with similar specifications in your neighborhood have gone up in value, and yours goes up by the same amount, your taxes won’t increase too much.
Properties in Cook County are assessed every three years, so knowing in advance when the assessor will come around will help you get ready. There are a few ways you can prepare:
- Avoid making large improvements until after they come
- Limit curb appeal—no extra sprucing or primping
- Be ready to walk through your property with the assessor to point out the bad as well as the good
- Keep in mind the specifications of properties in the same tax category
This all works on the basis that property assessments are highly subjective. If you can keep your home modest-looking, the assessor won’t be as likely to mark down significant increases in the property’s value.
Once your property has been assessed, you can appeal the assessment if you find something unfair. For instance, if your home has the same specifications as others in your area, but the value was increased, there was likely some error. Many property owners keep their taxes down year after year by consistently appealing these assessments.
There are various tax exemptions available to property owners in and around Chicago that can dramatically reduce tax obligations, thereby minimizing the impact of the recent tax hike. For instance, the Homeowner Exemption allows homeowners to essentially reduce the assessed value of their homes, keeping the resultant taxes down.
Depending on the exemptions you qualify for, your taxes may actually decrease, even after the tax hike.
Hire an Attorney
In some cases, disputes may arise over the assessed value of your property, and you will want someone to represent you in these instances. An experienced tax attorney, such as us at Hart David Carson, LLP, can assist you with appeals, disputes, and other issues and help you keep property tax liabilities down.