How do I do my own Cook Couty, IL property tax appeal?

So we got our assessment letter, and the Cook County Assessor’s Office thinks that the value of our home has increased by over 50% in the past three years. Which it hasn’t (it was probably quite undervalued on the last assessment, and is now somewhat overvalued).

So we’re going to appeal. I’d rather not pay a law firm a ton of money to do something I could do myself in less than an hour, so is it as simple as pointing out that all the comps they provided on the assessment letter are valued at around 1/3 less than our house? The comps are actually decently similar (close to the same age, square footage, # of bedrooms, all within a couple of blocks of us, etc.), but I can’t for the life of me figure out how the Assessor’s office can, with a straight face, essentially say “here are a bunch of houses that are almost exactly like yours, except we think you should pay 50% higher property taxes than they do, because we feel like it.”

Anything I should add? We bought the place a little over a year ago for about 10% less than they are valuing the house, but the other comparables are being assessed at about 30 - 35% less than we paid for the house. One option for an appeal is to include a recent bill of sale, but in this situation it doesn’t seem like it would be to our advantage because the other comps are valued so much lower than that.

Am I missing anything?

Yes, I know the whole system makes no sense if 90+ percent of people who appeal get their taxes reduced…sigh.

I don’t know how Cook County does it, but in my Wisconsin town, weeks prior to the appeal hearing, we have an “Open Book” session, where you can make an appointment with the assessor and go over exactly how he arrived at his figures for your property. It’s a one-on-one, informal, private session. If you can point out errors in his work and he agrees, he may adjust the assessment on the spot. If you disagree, you may have to enter the formal appeals process.

I once pointed out two small errors, and the assessor made an instant adjustment with no hassle.

On the off chance that you might have made an error, if an Open Book session is available in your area, I recommend you start there. Even if you don’t agree, you will have a better starting point for your formal argument.

This does not answer your question but it might help.

My brother has a friend in Chicago who uses an attorney for property tax appeals. The arrangement they have is the attorney can keep 50% of whatever he saves them. Seems to work pretty well for both of them. If he gets nothing they pay nothing to the attorney.

If you want I can ask my brother to get the attorney’s name and I can PM it to you.

It’s Chicago, of course they will try it with a straight face. They’re testing to see what they can get away with.

Call the Cook County Board of Review or visit 6th floor @ 118 N Clark/County Building.
They handle property tax assessment as well as property values based on locale/neighborhood areas. They will make a case to review for you and tell you what you need, then forward you to the assessors office. Expect them to throw you back and forth between departments but you’ll get it sorted.

Best of luck.

With over 3 million properties in Cook County, there is no system like that. At least now you can file an appeal online.

Thanks for the offer - we did that once at our old condo. The attorney got a lot of money for what seemed like not very much work. That’s why I was thinking of doing it pro se. It doesn’t seem like it would be hugely difficult, and like the attorney would have to get us twice the savings for it to be worthwhile to use an attorney. Especially when it seems like an open and shut case that we were assessed much higher than the comparable properties that the Assessor’s office picked out.

According to a documentary I saw, to deal with a Cook County property tax situation you should convince a couple of blues musicians to assist you.

Yeah, but I understand the drive to the assessor’s office is quite stressful.

It’s not available at the county level in my area at all, either. It’s the individual municipality’s responsibility. Doesn’t Cook County have any municipalities, like cites, towns, or villages?

I live in the City of Chicago, and no, Chicago doesn’t have that service and to the best of my knowledge neither does anywhere else in Cook County. Lots of places offer workshops on how to appeal your taxes, but as far as I know, not a live conversation with anyone who has control over the result unless you go to hearing at the Board of Review.

Didn’t you do a bunch of renovations to the place?

I’ve heard, very anecdotally, that the law firms take the amount saved for one year, not half.

Contact your Alderman. I know in the 39th ward Alderman Laurino’s office is holding a workshop sometime soon. Maybe others are too.

Not yet- it turned out to be more expensive than we expected, so it will have to wait.

You go here http://www.cookcountyassessor.com/Appeals/Appeal-Search.aspx and check the box that you are appealing overvaluation. Then you go add a list of your own comparables that you think fit better. There is a search function.

The last time I tried it I just got back a notification after awhile that my appeal was denied. I think the only option after that would be to go to court.

I’ll try it again since mine also jumped up 30% or so, but don’t have high hopes.

That’s weird that you say the comparables they give you are much lower than your evaluation. Yours should be somewhere around the median value, but the actual algorithm they use is some big secret. Maybe in your case, there is indeed a typo somewhere?

They take half. Or at least that’s what the one my parents used this year took.