News & Resources
You may have heard that property taxes on commercial properties in Cook County are on the rise. But you may not know why this is happening or what you can do about it.
As part of a new series of messages that aims to reveal the truth about property taxes, we’re going to take a closer look at this situation. We’ll tell you what’s going on and arm you with the knowledge you need to lower your property taxes.
In Cook County, the Assessor and the Chicago Tribune have been vocal in their belief that commercial property owners have not been paying their fair share of taxes, causing homeowners to pay more. There's also a growing public mindset that the wealthy should pay a greater share of taxes.
As a result, we have seen commercial assessments skyrocket, with little relief coming from appeals to the Assessor, but with significant adjustments coming from the Board of Review. But overall, commercial assessments have risen much more than in past years and the commercial tax base is growing.
As a result of these trends, commercial property taxes are rising in Cook County. In addition, the tax appeal process has been steadily becoming more challenging to navigate. Due to a barrage of criticism from the Assessor and the press, assessing officials are overreacting and asking for more (and sometimes unnecessary) documentation and records to justify tax relief. Their mindsets have changed. They are simply less willing to grant as much relief as they have in the past.
The bottom line is that outcomes of appeals have become less favorable and predictable than in the past.
Here are your options in Cook County to get maximum relief from high commercial property taxes:
1. The Cook County Assessor’s office. The current Assessor is steadfastly defending his assessments and denying most commercial appeals. So you may not find much relief here. Many attorneys are bypassing appeals to the Assessor altogether. We continue to file appeals with the Assessor’s office but are being more selective.
2. The Cook County Board of Review. Fortunately, the Board is granting substantial relief to commercial property owners, although not as much as in the past. This makes the Board the most valuable appeal route. But, unfortunately, because of the huge assessment hikes coming from the Assessor and capped relief from the Board, commercial assessments are growing more than in the past.
3. The State of Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board or Circuit Court. Taxpayers have a third option: filing appeals to the State of Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board (PTAB) or Circuit Court. If you win here, you’ll be rewarded with a tax refund plus interest. You have greater leverage in these third-level appeals – especially if you are willing to take a case to trial – and a better opportunity to secure a fair tax bill. This makes these level 3 appeals extremely valuable, but they take more time to resolve.
What can you do about it?
The assessment environment has changed. Old approaches are increasingly ineffective. To achieve a fair tax bill, you need a knowledgeable attorney with a strategic plan designed to work in today’s environment. Here are three factors to keep in mind for best results:
First, your attorney should be aware of how the environment is changing and what can be done to win in it.
Second, your attorney should know the law and appraisal theory, as well as how to use those tools to your advantage. They must be willing to appeal relentlessly through all stages of the appeal process.
Finally, you need to stay the course, be patient and have reasonable expectations of what success looks like today. You may not get as much relief from the Assessor as in years past. You should get good relief from the Board, but your assessment today may grow more than in the past. And, you may need to pursue third-level appeals to get the relief you truly deserve.
The right legal partner can help you develop a strategic plan designed to achieve success in today’s environment, relentlessly pursue fair taxes on your behalf and guide and educate you each step of the way.
Stay tuned for more common-sense advice on how to get the best results in today’s challenging tax environment.