How is your property assessed?

The Cook County Assessor is an elected official who is responsible for assessing 1.8 million parcels of land in Cook County. Cook County is divided into three assessment districts: the city of Chicago, the North suburbs and the South suburbs. Each year, the Assessor’s Office values all the properties in one of the three assessment districts, which means that City properties are only assessed once every three years.

The Cook County Assessor only calculates the Market Value of your house. When valuing residential properties, the Assessor’s office uses the same methods as an appraiser. This method looks at relevant sales in a neighborhood and estimates a property value by adding up characteristics of each similar property sold within the last five years. Adjustments are made by looking at differences like age of the property, construction quality, and size. Only properties located in the same neighborhood are compared to each other. When the Assessor gives your property a value using multiple years of home sales information in your neighborhood, it increases accuracy. Residential properties are assessed as of January 1 of the year they’re evaluated. Each Tax Year’s property taxes are billed and due the following year. For instance, 2017 taxes are billed and due in 2018.

Every residential property has an Assessed Value that is 10 percent of its Market Value. This 10 percent is set by a Cook County ordinance. The State then sets a “State Equalizer.” This number is set by Illinois law, and is used to ensure property taxes are being assessed uniformly throughout the state. In 2018, the State Equalizer is projected to be 2.8366. This number is multiplied by the Assessed Value. For example: 

$100,000   Estimated Market Value of your Home
X 0.10   Assessment Level (10%)
$10,000   Proposed Assessed Valuation
X 2.8366    State Equalizer
$28,366   Equalized Assessed Value

This Equalized Assessed Value of your home is then applied against your local tax rate. To find your local tax rate, go to https://www.cookcountyclerk.com/service/tax-extension-and-rates. Using the example above and a sample tax rate of .10, the tax bill for a home with an estimated market value of $100,000 would be: 

$28,366   Equalized Assessed Value
X 0.10   Sample Tax Rate
$2,366.00   Estimated Tax Bill in dollars

Luckily, many taxpayers will qualify for an exemption. 

Exemptions

Homeowners Exemption: You can receive a Homeowner Exemption to reduce your property tax bill if you own or if you have a lease which makes you responsible for the real estate taxes on the residential property. You must use the property as your principal place of residence for the tax year. 

The Homeowner Exemption lowers your equalized assessed value by $10,000.  The exemption amount is NOT the dollar amount by which your tax bill is lowered:

$100,000   Estimated Market Value
X.10   Assessment Level (10%)
$10,000   Proposed Assessed Valuation
X 2.8366    State Equalizer
$28,366   Equalized Assessed Value
-10,000   Homeowner Exemption
$18,366   Adjusted Equalized Assessed Value
X.10   Sample Tax Rate (your tax rate could vary)
$1,836.60   Estimated Tax Bill in dollars

Senior Homeowner Exemption: You can receive a Senior Homeowner Exemption to reduce your property tax bill if you own or if you have a lease which makes you responsible for the real estate taxes on the residential property, AND the property is your principal place of residence, AND you are 65 years or older.

The Senior Homeowner Exemption lowers your equalized assessed value by $8,000. The Senior Homeowner Exemption can be combined with Homeowner’s Exemption for greater savings.

You must apply for the Senior Homeowner Exemption EVERY year.  Please contact our office or the Assessor’s Office if you would like assistance with this.

Senior Freeze Exemption: Seniors may qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption. This exemption freezes the assessed value of the applicant’s property. This prevents property tax increases, even as the surrounding properties rise in value. To qualify for the Senior Freeze Exemption, you must be 65 years of age or older, AND have a total household income of less than $65,000; own the property, or have a lease which makes you responsible for the real estate taxes on the residential property, and the property is your principal place of residence.

You must apply for the Senior Homeowner Freeze Exemption EVERY year.  Please contact our office or Assessor’s Office if you would like assistance with this.

Returning Veterans Exemption: This Exemption is for veterans returning from active duty. To qualify, the veteran must be an Illinois resident who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, Illinois National Guard, or U.S. Reserve Forces, be returning from active duty. The veteran must own the property, or have a lease which makes them responsible for the real estate taxes on the residential property, use the property as their principal place of residence, and be liable for the payment taxes.

The Returning Veterans Exemption lowers your equalized assessed value by $5,000. Veterans are eligible for this reduction only for the taxable year in which they return from service.

If you are a veteran with a service related disability, you may be eligible for an exemption regardless of when you returned from active duty. Veterans must be at least 30% disabled, and deductions can range from $2,500-$5000. Veterans who are 70% disabled or more may be fully exempt from property taxes. 

Disabled Persons Exemption: You can receive a Disabled Persons Exemption if you own or if you have a lease which makes you responsible for the real estate taxes on the residential property, AND the property is your principal place of residence, AND you are disabled or become disabled during the tax year and have the proper documentation. 

This exemption lowers your equalized assessed value by $2,000. 

For any of these exemptions, you can call Taxpayer Services Department of the Assessor’s Office at 312-443-7550, or contact our office for help, 312-603-6380. To learn more about other exemptions you may be qualified for, visit http://www.cookcountyassessor.com/Exemptions/Exemption-Forms.aspx

Property Tax Appeals

The most common reason we appeal our property taxes is Lack of Uniformity: the amount of your assessment is more than similar properties in your neighborhood. As a homeowner, you can compare your property to similar properties in your neighborhood by looking on the Assessor’s Office Websites at www.cookcountyassessor.com. Go to the “Online Tool” icon, then click onto “Residential Property Search.”

To learn more, visit http://www.cookcountyassessor.com/Appeals/Appeal-Search.aspx

Paying your Property Tax Bill

Property tax bills are paid to the Cook County Treasurer’s Office. This can be done online, in person, or via mail. To make an online payment or learn how to pay via mail visit https://www.cookcountytreasurer.com/.

Refunds

If you overpay your property taxes, refunds are not issued automatically. If you overpay or double-pay your Cook County taxes you must submit a refund application. Visit https://www.cookcountytreasurer.com/howtoapplyforarefund.aspx to download the application.

You can check to see if you have a refund available by going to https://www.cookcountytreasurer.com/ and visiting the “Refund” tab at the top of the page. This will direct you to search by your PIN number or address.