If your property tax bill seems too high, you may wonder if there’s anything you can do to lower it. One option is to challenge your property tax assessment, but that’s only effective in certain situations, particularly given how these taxes are calculated in Illinois. In this article, we’ll discuss how to decide whether you should challenge your property’s tax assessment.
How Property Taxes Are Determined
Before diving into whether you should challenge the tax assessment on your home, it helps to first understand how your taxes are calculated. In Illinois, a property’s taxable value is determined by an assessor from your county or township.
The assessor will look at your property and determine its value based on age, condition, size, and the sale prices of similar homes in your area. From there, the taxable value—referred to as its assessed value—is calculated at a percentage of its “fair market value,” or the amount it could sell for on the market. This varies from place to place, but most counties use a third of their fair market value.
The assessed value may be adjusted by other factors, such as certain multipliers and exemptions. Your tax is then calculated as a percentage of the taxable value. Again, these rates vary by county. For instance, if the taxable value of a home is $20,000 and the tax rate is 10% of that, then your taxes would be $2,000 for the year.
Reasons to Challenge an Assessment
Often, your property taxes may seem high, and challenging your tax assessment may help you decrease the amount you are required to pay. The primary reasons to challenge the assessment are to reduce your tax burden and to make sure the records are set straight for the years that follow.
That said, it might not always be a good idea to challenge the assessment. For instance, while your taxes might increase after a few years, challenging the assessment will do you little good if you know your home’s value has increased during that time as well.
Note also that you cannot challenge the tax rate itself. Only the assessed value can be negotiated.
Deciding to Challenge a Property Tax Assessment
When determining whether it’s a good idea to challenge a property tax assessment in Illinois, consider these questions as you look into the assessment:
- Has your property increased in value since its last assessment?
- Were mitigating factors—age, defects, size, etc.—taken into account in the assessment?
- How does your assessment compare to those of similar properties? Is it more or less?
- Was your property classified properly? Commercial properties are taxed at a higher rate than residential.
- Is your property worth more or less than the market value on the assessment?
If your home turns out to have been valued higher than it’s actually worth or if there were errors in the calculations that negatively impact your taxes, it’s probably a good idea to challenge your property tax assessment. Otherwise, it won’t do you any good, and may even be counterproductive if it turns out your home was valued too low.
If you have questions about property taxes, a real estate attorney can help. Contact Hart David Carson LLP for legal support when dealing with property taxes in Illinois.