In Lake County, property taxes are some of the highest in the country. Every homeowners’ tax bill gets recalculated every year. Thankfully, you can take steps to try and lower your tax bill by appealing. Filing a tax appeal can be intimidating, but it’s a crucial step towards potentially lowering your tax bill in a given year. Let’s go over how the property tax system works in Lake County and the steps you can take to try and lower your tax bill.
The property tax assessment and appeal process can be confusing. There are a lot of different steps along the way, with multiple government departments influencing your ultimate tax bill.
The first step in the property tax process is to assess, or value, a property.
Every year, the Lake County Assessor’s office reassesses the value of all Lake County Properties.
This means that it attempts to calculate the market value of all of the properties in the county.
Market value means the reasonably likely sales value of a property if it were to be sold on the open market. In short, your assessed value should be based on what your property is actually worth.
Lake County has many thousands of tax parcels to value. Naturally, this is a very large task for the assessor to do. Mistakes are inevitably made. But you can attempt to correct a mistake on your bill, such as an overly high assessment, by appealing.
Property taxes are based on a fixed levy by the county. This means that all properties in the taxing district must pool their taxes together to meet a fixed total.
After all properties are assessed, the Lake County Clerk determines the tax levy based on the needs of varying offices (like libraries, schools, and other programs that rely on property taxes). This tax levy is then spread proportionately based on the assessed values of every property.
After this, the Lake County Treasurer collects tax bill payments and distributes the money to the government programs within the county.
This fixed levy system also means that anyone who is over assessed on their taxes will pay an unfair amount of taxes. This has been an especially major issue in Cook County, where millions of homeowners unfairly face high tax burdens thanks to imbalanced assessments.
This is where appealing your property taxes can prove especially helpful.
Every property owner has the right to appeal his or her property taxes each year.
While there is no guarantee that the appeal will be successful, it is one of the most effective ways to potentially lower your tax bill.
If your property’s assessed value seems too high, you can appeal for the Assessor to reduce it. If the Assessor agrees with your appeal case, then they will reduce your property’s assessed value accordingly.
And appealing doesn’t just have to be for assessed value. For example, if your bill should have included an exemption (like the homestead of senior exemption) then you can appeal to correct that too. Speaking with an attorney can help to explore different avenues for filing the most impactful appeal.
Let’s go over that tax appeal process now.
There are two ways to file your appeal: on your own or with an attorney.
The process after filing your appeal is largely the same, whether you use an attorney or not. The Board of Review will review your tax appeal documents and make a decision thereafter.
However, putting together an appeal file can be tricky, and you want to make sure it is well-polished and accurate before filing. This is where an attorney can help.
Typically, there are strict deadlines for filing appeals. Every district or town will generally have its own filing period. Make sure to complete your tax appeal filing before the deadline to ensure that yours gets reviewed.
After you file your property tax appeal, the Board of Review will evaluate your appeal documents.
If they believe that your appeal is correct, they will have the Assessor adjust your assessed value accordingly.
Your tax bill will be adjusted thereafter. Often, the change carries over into the next bill so that it gets reduced, or you may even be entitled to a refund.
If your appeal fails, nothing changes. You pay your tax bill as you normally would, and your property’s assessed value stays the same.
You have the right to appeal every year, and there’s practically no downside risk to appealing.
If your appeal fails, your tax bill will stay the same. But, if it is successful, you’ll enjoy a reduced bill.
In short, there’s little reason not to appeal your property taxes. This makes 2021 a great time to appeal, whether you have appealed in the past or not.
While you can appeal your property taxes yourself, it can be very tricky to navigate the process. Having a professional manage your appeal can ensure that you file the best appeal possible, and that you get the maximum property tax reduction if it is successful.
The experienced property tax appeal attorneys at Johnston Tomei Lenczycki & Goldberg LLC can help you achieve the best results on your property tax appeal. Call us today at (847) 549-0600 or email us at email@example.com to schedule a free consultation.
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