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Appeal Process

The appeal process basic steps are outlined later in this article. But first there is some background questions and information you should know.

The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Is my assessment correct?” Your opportunity to review the assessed value is when you receive the Reassessment Notice usually in the month of August. You will have thirty days from the date the township assessments are published in the paper to file an appeal.

The assessor is mandated by law to assess property equitably at thirty-three and one-third percent (.3333) of "Market Value".

The assessor cannot just simply give anyone a lower assessment just because a person wants to pay less real estate taxes. Even if the assessor under assesses the value of the whole township, it does not mean you will pay less taxes, because there is a direct relationship between the assessed value and the tax levy and the tax rate. Please read topic "Relationship of Tax Rate, Tax Levy, and Assessment" to get a more detailed explanation.

Your real estate property is entitled to an assessment based on "Market Value". Your real estate property is also entitled to an equitable assessment.

Your basis for appeal is either the assessment is not according to "Market Value," or it is not an equitable assessment compared to very similar properties.

The burden of proof in the appeal process is on the property owner so be prepared to prove the basis of the appeal.

Market Value Appeal:

The most supportable evidence of "Market Value" is a recent arms-length transaction that meets all the criteria of the definition of a "Market Value" sale. An arms-length transaction is one not influenced by any undue circumstances such as foreclosure, between related parties, etc. A recent sale is considered to be one year or less.

The next most supportable evidence of "Market Value" is a recent appraisal by a state certified independent fee appraiser for the purpose of establishing "Market Value." This type of appraisal should use comparable properties very similar to the subject property and preferable within one square mile of the subject when possible. A state certified appraiser is bound by law to give you a unbiased appraisal. A recent appraisal is considered to be one year or less.

Note: Independent Fee Appraisers are listed in the yellow pages. A typical residential property appraisal will cost approximately $250 during the 1990's. To determine the cost benefit of this option, calculate how much your property is over assessed. Example: In your opinion, your property is over assessed by $4,000 of assessed value. The current tax rate in your area is seven percent. 4000 x .07 = $280 tax dollars. If you win your case with this method, your net savings is $30.

Assessment Equity Appeal:

This means excluding land differences your property's improvements/buildings should be assessed equitably with others of the same value. Or your improvements/buildings should be assessed equitably with others that are very similar in age, building style (1-sty, 2-sty, etc.), construction quality (even the same model home will vary in price from quality upgrades), size (gross living area (GLA expressed in square feet)), condition, and other auxiliary structures such as deck, patio, detached garage, pole buildings etc.

Note: Equity arguments regarding buildings are compared by dividing the building assessment component by the gross living area. If you have chosen very good comparable properties and your building assessed value is more than a $1.00 per square foot difference, you should have a good chance at winning your appeal. Only three comparable properties are necessary to prove an equity argument. Do not choose comparable properties that have partial assessments. This occurs if the on completion date of new improvement/building is after January 1, of the current assessment year. If an equity problem exist you have the best chance at winning your appeal by selecting the most comparable properties to the subject property. If you simply choose properties with lower assessments that are not truly comparable, your evidence will not have much credence.

The Appeal Process:

1. The first step is to contact the assessor regarding your assessment. Depending upon the current phase of the tax cycle, the assessor will advise you of a course of action. Different circumstances dictate various assessment review and assessment revision processes. Sometimes the assessor will advise you to file an appeal. Don't be offended or intimidated; it is your right to appeal. The assessor does not take assessment appeals personal. It is just a government process that follows a set of rules.

2. You don't have to do step one. You can just simply file the assessment complaint appeal at the Will Board of Review (BOR). Their office is in the Will County Office Building located at 302 North Chicago Street in Joliet, Illinois. They will notify and give the assessor a copy of the appeal.

3. Once the appeal is filed with the Will County Board of Review, they will notify you in writing of a hearing date.

4. Once the assessor has reviewed the appeal in preparation for the hearing he or she may contact the owner with an assessment stipulation. This is a signed agreement between the assessor and the property owner on a mutually agreeable assessment. This stipulation form is given to the Board of Review and the assessment is revised per the stipulation. There is no need to attend a hearing.

5. During the hearing you will be given a time interval to highlight verbally any written evidence you submitted with the appeal form. The township assessor will be given the same time to present evidence on behalf of the township.

6. The Board of Review member hearing the appeal will not make a decision at the hearing. You will receive a written notice of there decision some weeks later.

7. If you are not satisfied with Will County Board of Review's decision you can appeal to the State of Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board (forms are available at the Supervisor of Assessment Office).

8. The Property Tax Appeal Board will schedule a hearing for you at the Will County Office Building and you will be notified in writing. This is considered to be a new hearing and, you can submit new evidence if you desire. The county can also submit new evidence usually prepared by the township assessor.

9. This hearing process is similar to the first except a Will County Supervisor of Assessment is presenting the case because the Will County Board of Review upheld the township assessor assessment or the Board of Review did not grant enough assessment relief to satisfy the property owner. The assessor may be asked by the county to participate in the hearing as a expert witness. Once again, no decision will be made at this hearing. The Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) will notify the owner and the county of their decision.

10. If you lose your appeal both at the BOR and PTAB you can pursue it in court but you are probably wasting your time and money.

11. A decision by the Will County Board of Review only applies to the current assessment year. If the case was won on equity the assessor can and should reassess the area for equitable assessments according to "Market Value."

12. A decision by the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board will apply until the next quadrennial year. So depending upon when the case is heard. The decision could be good for one to four years. Please note your property will be reassessed just like any others during this period but the Board of Review will role it back to the PTAB decision until the time expires. Exceptions include if the property sells, or new improvements are added. Note PTAB decisions are always in the next calendar year, not the current assessment year. See Tax Cycle topic. A refund check is issued by the county treasurer for decisions in favor of the property owner.