From the McHenry County email last Friday:
10 Questions to a Fair Assessment:
An Explanation of the Assessment Appeal Process in McHenry County
After you have received your 2011 assessment notice please use the commonly asked questions below to better understand your assessment.
1. What’s my first step to determine if my assessment is accurate?
Make sure the information about your property is correct. The local assessor may also be able to show you other properties similar to yours in your neighborhood. You can determine if your property is equitably assessed. He or she may also have comparable sales information. If you have lived in your home for a long time you may not realize how much it is worth now.
2. I didn’t agree with the assessor, what do I do now?
If you are unable to get your assessment satisfactorily resolved with the Assessors’ Office, then get prepared. You only have 30 days from the publication date to file an appeal, so you need to start doing your research early. Go to the county web site at www.co.mchenry.il.us. Then go to departments, then to assessments, then to forms. Bring up the county appeal form and familiarize yourself with it. While there, look at the Board of Review Rules. You will also need to check out recent home sales by going to the county or township assessment office to view recent sales in your area. You might also want to talk to a realtor or appraiser.
3. How will I know what my new assessment is?
You will be receiving a letter in the mail later this summer or fall from the McHenry County Assessor’s Office. This is your new official assessment notice and this is the second year the notice is in letter format that includes more assessment and property information. At the same time you receive your letter, all assessments are published in the local newspaper. That publication date marks the beginning of the 30-day appeal process for your township.
4. I’m filing an appeal. What now?
Don’t miss the deadline. By state statute, your appeal cannot be accepted after the deadline. Determine if your appeal is to be based on equity or market value. Your home could be assessed at the correct market value, but if all the other similar homes on your street are assessed below market value, then you are over assessed because you are carrying a larger share of the tax burden. In an equity complaint, you must supply the assessments of comparable properties in your neighborhood. In a market value complaint, you must supply recent sales data to support the fact that your home may be over-assessed.
Remember, you need to use comparable properties. That means properties of similar size, story height, quality of construction and style. You must use the comparable property form to show the differences between the comparable properties and your home. Be sure to file this information with your complaint form. This is your “evidence” to prove that your assessment is incorrect. You want to provide the most convincing case that you can. This means that you also need to show where your information came from. Pictures of your comparables and your own home are very, very valuable evidence. After receipt of your appeal, in most instances, you will receive a Notice of Hearing.
In addition, the option to have your assessment appeal based on the evidence without a formal hearing is available by checking the box indicating no hearing required. In this case, you would submit your evidence to the Board of Review. The township assessor would then submit their evidence. The Board of Review would then review the evidence from both parties and base their decision on the weight of the evidence provided by both parties.
5. I purchased my home during this past year. Will the Board of Review consider that?
If you recently purchased your home and the Board of Review determines the sale to be an “arms length” transaction between unrelated parties, this may be considered good evidence. Short sales and foreclosures that are advertised on the open market may be “arms length.” The Board of Review reserves the right to adjust all sales for market conditions/time and terms of the sale.
6. What happens at the hearing?
The hearing is somewhat informal. Present will be two or three Board of Review hearing officers, a clerk to handle the paper work, a representative from the township assessor’s office, and you, the property owner. You may be represented by an attorney if you choose. You must include the Authorization to Represent form if you have someone represent you at the hearing.
The Board of Review will ask you about the evidence that you submitted to prove your assessment should be changed. If you go to the hearing and all you have to say is that your taxes are too high, the Board of Review will tell you that they have no jurisdiction over your tax bill. They can only discuss your assessment and the fair cash value of your property. After hearing your arguments and asking you questions about your evidence, then the Board will ask the township assessor to respond to your evidence and information and provide any additional information he or she may have.
7. When will I know the decision of the Board of Review?
In almost all cases, the Board of Review will make their decision at the conclusion of the hearing. The Board of Review does not issue official written decisions until all hearings have been held which is usually early March.
8. What if I’m still not happy?
Once you receive that written Final Notice of Findings, you will have 30 days from the date of the postmark to file with the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB). Those forms are available in the county office.
9. What can I expect if I do that?
You will be expected to provide evidence and proof of your contentions regarding your assessment. Determination of hearing date and all correspondence will originate from the state. However, PTAB hearings are held at the county office for the convenience of the taxpayer. The state sends a hearing officer to preside over the hearing, which is recorded. The hearing is a little more formal than the local hearing.
Again, you are allowed to present your case first. The Board of Review is there to explain their reasons for the assessment they placed on the property. The township assessor may be there to provide information and act as a witness for the Board of Review, if the Board made their decision based on information provided by the assessor. Remember, the appeal to PTAB is “de novo” which means all new. You can provide additional information that you may have neglected to provide at the county level. The Board of Review can also provide new information.
10. I don’t think the Property Tax Appeal Board made the right decision. Is there anything more I can do?
Since you have exhausted all of your administrative remedies, you can now file a court action. Contact your attorney.