The Beverly Review published a letter to the editor (Aug. 15, 2018) about my intention to appeal my Cook County property tax assessment.
A few Beverly residents shared their thanks with me for writing it and expressed empathy. I appealed and conducted the required research.
I found comparable homes—mine is 800 square feet—as well as homes much larger than mine. A two-story home, for example, had a lower assessment.
I made my case. I was agreeable to the often-given tax increase, but the increase was extremely high for an old, one-story stucco—the highest since 1986.
In late April, a letter from the Property Tax Appeals Board (PTAB) stated that my appeal was turned down. In this letter, the process to further appeal gave me the impression that I had to visit Springfield, Ill., to do it. A cryptic letter it was, with mention of sections and proceedings in court that appeared to me as gobbledygook.
More importantly, I deserved to know why my appeal was rejected. This letter gave no explanation.
A phone number was found, and an equally cryptic office person explained that I would have to complete an additional appeal and that I could look it up. I was able to persuade them to send me a copy of the document as the 30-day appeal clock was running.
Once I received and reviewed the application, I realized that there was no chance that I would win my appeal. The confusing and time-consuming document not only asked me to do the work I had already done all over again, but in much greater detail with three pages of directions and checklists.
I would have to go to the Cook County office, look up details of the comparative properties and provide pictures of them; information the office already had! I would have to provide 24 separate answers describing my home, which the PTAB already has. I would also have to judge “assessment equity,” something I am not qualified to do.
Isn’t that what my first appeal was to do? Evidently not.
I don’t have that kind of time to waste on something that I can clearly see is stacked against me. With this overwhelming four-page document, I can see why a homeowner needs to hire a lawyer. I see now that residential appeals are good business, with additional cost to the homeowner.
Even if I did all the research, provided the pictures needed and won this additional appeal, my final reassessment would still be based on an already inflated and unfair estimate of value.
Homeowners deserve to be treated fairly and have their home’s estimated value based on fact by Cook County and the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board. I deserve to know why my appeal was rejected and to know who is responsible to see that this is a fair and equitable process.
Understandably, I am not holding my breath.