Tax assessments, exemptions and appeals in Cook County

Image Source: CBS Chicago, Property Tax Bills Anger Cook County Homeowners

If you live in Cook County, you may have a real estate tax bill in your mailbox. While some residents simply write a check and pay the assessed taxes, others regularly challenge the assessments through the appeals process. The procedures involved in appealing assessments of primary homestead residences are relatively straightforward. Individuals who are owners of commercial properties and the residents in condominiums may find the system to be more complex and an experienced real estate tax attorney may be required.

The procedures and systems are unique in various counties, and municipalities. There are certain real estate tax exemptions to which certain residents are entitled. When exemptions are missed, they can later be claimed and residential taxpayers may be entitled to a refund check from the county. In this short article, we highlight some important elements of the real estate tax system.

Real Estate Taxes are collected in two annual installments in Cook County.

The Office of the Cook County Treasurer starts mailing the first installment of the real estate tax bills for 2015 on January 25, 2016, with a due date of March 1, 2016. The amount of the first installment is a reflection of your total real estate tax liability from the previous year. The first 2015 installment amount is 55 percent of the 2014 tax bill.

The notices for the second installment, representing the remaining 45 percent due will be mailed in July 2016, and will be due in August 2016. The exact dates are not yet published on the Treasurer’s Office website.

Tax assessments may be disputed, and modifications are applied to the second installment tax bill.

To ensure proper cash flow to allow local governments to operate and pay their financial obligations, any challenges to assessment are reflected in the second installment. If either you are successful challenging the assessment, or there are changes in your assessment or your tax rate, the total due may be less than the amount you estimate based on the first installment bill.

Assessment appeals are available if you want to challenge the assessed value of your property. The Office of the Cook County Assessor’s website contains helpful information and forms for residents and property owners who want to challenge their assessments. There are several levels of appeals available to residents, involving appeals to the Cook County Assessor, the Cook County Board of Review, the Cook County Circuit Court, and the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board.

Tax exemptions and savings are available to qualified property owners.

The three most common tax exemptions are the Homeowner Exemption ($250-$2,000), the Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption ($250-$300 additional to the Homeowner Exemption) and the Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Exemption, where qualified seniors’ assessed value of their property may be frozen and will not increase. There are also exemptions and savings available for home improvements, disabled veterans, and military personnel. Once you apply for an exemption and are approved by the State, the exemption carries from year to year until you sell your property or otherwise change the main use of your property, for example, from your main homestead to a rental property. In addition, if you fail to claim an exemption you may apply for a refund for a limited number of past years in which you would have qualified for the exemption. There are more frequently asked and answered questions about exemptions located on the Cook County Board of Review’s website.

Illinois Professional Licensing Consultants 6Whether you need to hire an attorney to represent you or need to be pointed in the right direction, you may contact Michael V. Favia and Associates for real estate tax assistance in the Chicago area.

The offices of Michael V. Favia and Associates work with, and Michael V. Favia is of counsel to the Chicago law firm, Amari & Locallo, whose comprehensive knowledge of real estate tax laws and procedures are available to answer questions about the real estate tax assessment and collection process. You may also want to listen to a recent podcast in which Katherine O’Dell, a partner at Amari & Locallo, explains the real estate tax system in detail.

Chicago litigation attorney, Michael V. Favia and the associate attorneys of Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C. represent individuals and organizations in the Chicago area with a variety of legal matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You can also review endorsements and recommendations for Michael V. Favia on his profile and on LinkedIn.