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Hinderman: Tips for appealing your property tax assessment

Updated: December 25, 2013 6:12AM



The Orland Township assessor’s office provides assistance for homeowners in appealing the assessed valuation of their property. Appeals may be filed through the Cook County Board of Review until Dec. 3.

Information can be found at www.cookcountyboardofreview.com or by calling the board of review at (312) 603-5542 or the Orland Township assessor’s office at (708) 403-4222.

There are several reasons to appeal your home’s assessment — it was overvalued compared to similar homes within your neighborhood; there are inaccuracies in the home’s characteristics or the size of the lot or it’s overvalued based on a recent purchase or recent appraisal. Appraisals conducted after Jan. 1, 2010 may be used for reference, as well as closing statements after that same date.

The staff at the township assessor’s office can assist you preparing an appeal, including what documents should be included as evidence in support of your appeal. For example, if your property is overvalued based on a recent purchase or recent appraisal, submit a copy of your settlement or closing statement or a copy of the complete appraisal.

If there are homes like yours that have lower assessments, the township staff has an excellent program to identify such properties and can provide the appropriate support for your appeal.

Mary Ellen Malito, the township’s chief deputy assessor, demonstrated the program during my recent visit to the office. Having performed the searches myself at home, this program had far more “fields” and provided six different comparables (comps) to my home. The paperwork was prepared, signed and will be sent to the board of review for a decision on my appeal.

Malito also had some good news — the general homeowner exemption was increased in April from $6,000 to $7,000 ($7,000 multiplied by your total property tax rate equals the actual savings via the exemption), and the senior citizen exemption was increased from $4,000 to $5,000 (same math to determine the savings).

Another new state law requires a property owner to repay savings on their property tax bill that were granted in error. Those who got erroneous exemptions have until Dec. 31 to repay the savings without interest or penalty. Those who wait until Jan. 1 will be charged interest and a penalty.

Orland Township Assessor Richard Kelly said the “homeowner, senior citizen and senior freeze exemptions are the “most popular” exemptions for homeowners.

Illinois law allows tax exemptions only on a principal residence. However, a significant number of rental and investment properties and second homes have been receiving exemptions illegally.

“Under our property tax system, whenever one property receives an exemption it is not entitled to, all other property owners have to pay a little more to make up for the erroneous exemption,” Kelly said. “This is unfair.”

He urges anyone with questions about the new law to call his office, which can “help taxpayers determine whether they have any erroneous exemptions. We can also offer advice and assistance on how to repay the exemptions and how to ensure that property owners do not receive erroneous tax exemptions in the future.”

Back to filing your assessment appeal. To get started, schedule an appointment with the township assessor’s office at (708) 403-4222. If the township staff prepares your appeal, you will be given copies of the appeal form and any supporting documentation. Your appeal will be mailed directly for processing. A letter explaining the decision on the appeal will be mailed directly to the property owner.

If you wish, you can appeal online at www.cookcountyboardofreview.com. The deadline is Dec. 3 (5 p.m. for paper forms; 11:30 p.m. for online).

The last day the Orland Township assessor’s office will accept 2013 appeals is Nov. 27 to ensure delivery to the board of review office (118 N. Clark St., Room 601, Chicago, IL 60602) by the Dec. 3 filing deadline.

The assessor’s office will continue to assist residents through Dec. 3, but residents will need to mail their appeal forms in time for them to be postmarked for Dec. 3. You also can drop them off at the board of review offices at the county courthouses in Bridgeview and Markham. Indicate on the envelope that it contains a 2013 tax assessment appeal and include your complaint or appeal number.



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