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Cook County & Skokie Property Tax Appeals Attorney


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Owners of property in Illinois, as throughout the country, pay property taxes during the course of each year. Because amounts of property taxes vary widely from state to state and even within the same zone, it is a good idea to work with a knowledgeable real estate/tax appeal attorney to understand how property taxes are computed and to determine whether your own property is being assessed at too high a value. Why not come to M&A Law Firm, P.C. where our talented real estate attorneys will help you obtain an  accurate valuation of your property and perhaps have your tax bill lowered? You have nothing to lose since we work on a contingency basis and won’t charge you a fee unless we are successful.

Benefits of Letting M&A Law Firm Take Care of Your Tax Appeal

You should be aware that, while M&A Law Firm handles commercial tax appeals throughout Illinois, we only handle residential tax appeals in Cook County. Therefore, the major focus of this article will be on commercial tax appeals, including those for owners of vacant land, apartment buildings with more than six units, not-for-profits, and industrial/commercial property. There are several benefits to bringing your property tax concerns to M&A. For one thing, when you come to us, we will handle the entire process for you. For another, we work on a contingency basis, meaning that unless our appeal on your behalf is successful, we will never charge you a fee.

You should know that although accountants, real estate consultants, tax representatives and others may advertise their property tax appeals services, only licensed attorneys are capable of representing you at hearings before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, or at any appeals cases that will eventually end up in the courts.

Commercial Property Tax Basics in Illinois

No matter which kind of commercial property you own, your real estate taxes are likely to represent a significant proportion of your expenses. For this reason, whether you own an office building, retail space, a warehouse, an apartment building or some other type of commercial property, appealing your taxes may have a substantially positive effect on your profit margin.

In order to calculate property taxes, the local tax assessor determines the fair market value (FMV) of each property within an assigned location. The size of these locations varies throughout the state of Illinois. In Cook County, for example, the assessor oversees the entire county, whereas in other Illinois counties assessments may be done based on county, multi-township or township level.

How is fair market value determined?

The FMV is determined by one of three possible methods:

  • Analysis of market data that shows recent sale prices of similar nearby properties

  • Figuring out the cost of rebuilding the structure, plus the value of the land

  • Estimating the future net income an investor might receive (if the property is income-producing)

How frequently are property values reassessed in Illinois?

While Cook County property values are reassessed every 3 years, throughout the rest of Illinois property reassessments are undertaken every 4 years. Each part of the state is on its own schedule, so, for example, Chicago was reassessed in 2015 and its southern suburbs are being reassessed in 2017. It is common to appeal your property taxes at the time of reassessment.

Signs that Commercial Property Taxes Should Be Appealed

The following circumstances may indicate that a tax appeal may be necessary:

  1. An existing appraisal contains incorrect structural information

  2. Appraisals of similar properties in the surrounding area have been appraised at lower values than your own

  3. Your income-producing property has a high number of vacancies and/or is experiencing cash-flow problems

  4. There are defects in your structure or on your property requiring expensive repairs

  5. You are preparing to sell or lease your property and feel that high taxes may scare away potential buyers or renters

  6. You have recently purchased or leased the property and know that the previous owner never took the time to appeal the property taxes

In any of these situations, an experienced attorney can help you navigate the commercial tax appeals process.

How are Illinois tax bills calculated?

There are two primary bases by which the government of Illinois figures our your property tax: the taxable value of your property and your tax rate. The procedure for computing your property tax is as follows:

The county assessor, the township assessor, or the county supervisor of assessment, (depending on your location in the state) will figure out the taxable value of your property. In most counties of Illinois, the taxable value of a home is considered to be one-third of the home’s “fair cash value,” that is, what your home would realistically sell for in the current housing market. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. In Cook county, for example, the taxable value is only 10 percent of the fair cash value. In all cases, these percentage figures are also referred to as “the assessment ratio.”

What measure of control do you have over your property taxes?

While you don’t have power over original tax determinations on your commercial property, you do have leverage  when it comes to determining your property’s taxable value. By having a trustworthy law firm like ours at your back when you appeal, you have the ability to have your taxable value reassessed. If your attorney can convince the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) of Illinois that the current prices paid for comparable properties in your area are lower than the amount your property was appraised for, you may be able to get you property taxes reduced, sometimes substantially.

Checking Official Tax Records

With the help of one of our attorneys, you can get a copy of your tax record from the assessor’s office. This will give you and your lawyer the opportunity to examine it in order to determine whether it contains any erroneous or incomplete data that may have led the assessor to assess your property for too high an amount.

What to Check for on Your Tax Record

In looking for possible mistakes on your tax record, you and your lawyer should be carefully peruse the document for errors regarding:

  • Classification as residential property

  • Age of the building

  • Price when you purchased the property

  • Size of  the building

  • Size of the plot

  • Number and type of available rooms

  • Improvements you have made to the property

  • Structural defects (e.g. worn roof, moldy basement)

Gathering Pertinent  Information As your attorneys, we  will help you gather information concerning whether the assessor has evaluated commercial properties with  approximately the same square footage as yours, in comparable locations for lower amounts. If so,, your lawyer may be able to compile evidence that your property has been unfairly burdened with an abnormally high taxable value. It is possible that we will hire a private appraiser to give an alternate reading on the taxable value of your commercial property.

What You Have to Prove to Successfully Appeal Your Property Taxes

Legally, in order to challenge the taxable value of your property, you’ll need to establish either that  the tax assessor [1] used incomplete or incorrect information in evaluating your property [2] set the taxable value of your commercial property unreasonably higher than that of other property in the immediate vicinity or [3] assumed that the current market value of your property was higher than it actually is.

Steps to be Taken to Appeal Your Property Tax

Our tax appeals attorneys are well-versed in the appeals process, and are adept in crafting a convincing appeal. If our attorneys we uncover compelling evidence that your commercial property has been improperly assessed, we will arrange a meeting of our team with  the assessor to plead your case directly. If this action is insufficient  to get your tax lowered, we will go before the County Board of Review. If this still doesn’t work, we can appeal to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB).

As your attorneys we will come to any of these meetings with all necessary documentation, which may include:

  • Recent property appraisal

  • Report from a contractor noting needed repairs and their costs

  • Listing or chart of actual sale prices of similar property in your zone

  • Photographs of similar properties with their taxable values

We will bring enough copies of each so that each hearing officer can have his or her own copy to examine.

When you are considering appealing your commercial property taxes, having M&A Law Firm, P.C. at your side can be invaluable. Our knowledgeable tax appeal attorneys will relieve your stress and frustration by taking the matter off your hands, advocating for you and making sure that you are treated fairly. In the long run, having our professionals in your corner will be both effective and cost-efficient. Please contact us by telephone or by filling out a contact form on our website.

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