Seeking tales of successful property tax appeals
July 8, 2014 8:35 AM Subscribe
I'm in the process of appealing the recent assessment of my house. My next (and final) step is to present my case to the local Board of Review, and I'm wondering how best to do that.
posted by ndg to Law & Government (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is in Cook County, Illinois, where property taxes are no joke.
My wife and I purchased our house about 1 1/2 years ago. We knew a reassessment for our township was coming up this year, and right on schedule, we received a letter from our county assessor with the news that our valuation had increased about 15%. I'd been told that the first step to appealing assessments was to meet with the local assessor's office, so I made an appointment, during which the staff identified eight comparable properties in my neighborhood with assessed values per square foot about 26% lower than mine. The local assessor filed the appeal on my behalf.
Eight weeks later, I heard from the county assessor that they were declining to revise the assessed value. (I forget the one-line rationale but it was something to do with analysis of the selling price.) I ran back to the local assessor's office and filled out the form to appeal the appeal (deadline less than 24 hours later; very sneaky), which is pending, but I don't have any confidence that I'm going to get satisfaction this way, and am preparing to appeal to the Board of Review, but I'm not sure how to go about it.
I've pre-registered with the Board, which I think will open in August for my township. What tips do you have to help me make a strong case?
Specific other questions:
- I looked up the values of all the other houses on my street and determined that we're being assessed the highest value/square foot of any of the other 20 properties on the block - 26% higher than the average. Should part of my case include details about how my house is inferior to houses with lower values? How many examples do I need to be convincing? For example, my next-door neighbor's house is much larger (56% more square footage, according to the records), and their purchase price was higher than mine when they bought five years ago, but their assessed value is lower (both absolutely and in terms of price/sqft). Our houses are fundamentally similar (actually, ours is frame and their's is brick). There are other examples on my street I can point out. Will this do me any good? There's no way this can lead to an increase in the assessments of my neighbors, can it?
- The houses that sold recently (including mine) have higher assessments, so it seems clear that they're factoring in purchase price. I'm not sure how to make the argument, but something is off about this - it's not so much that their overvaluing my house, I think, as that they're undervaluing everything else nearby that hasn't been on the market (which will make my share of the property tax higher). Ergo, "lack of uniformity," which is an accepted basis for an appeal. It's my understanding that they're supposed to determine what a property would sell for between a normal seller and buyer regardless of whether they actually were for sale, and I don't think that's being done. For example, how can they argue that my next-door neighbor's much larger house would sell for less than mine would?
I've heard that the Board is more sympathetic to people who represent themselves rather than employ lawyers. I'd rather do this myself if I can, but I'd consider hiring a lawyer if it's really my best shot. As I understand it, I also have the choice of presenting my case in person to the board or submitting documentation ahead of time. Is there any particular advantage to appearing in person?
Thanks for any and all suggestions!