Incoming Grafton Township Assessor Al Zielinski Outlines Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Take a look and give your reaction to Al Zielinski’s ideas for a Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Zielinski takes office as Grafton Township Assessor the first of the new year.

Initial, Conceptual Property Owners’ Taxpayer Bill of Rights Discussion Points

Al Zielinski

Al Zielinski

  • Thirty business, not calendar, days for appeals to the Board of Review and the PTAB.
  • Taxpayers can reschedule their Board of Review and PTAB hearing(s) once each with good cause.
  • When the basis of the appeal is fair market value, Taxpayers can be represented by Illinois certified appraisers at county and PTAB hearings.

This is not practicing law because the appeal is based solely on valuation.

To the contrary, the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation is considering pursuing attorneys who appeal based on valuation because they are practicing appraisal without a license.

This position is further reinforced by McHenry County Board of Review rule III(C)(4):

“Agents who are not licensed through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) as a real estate appraiser or broker, and provide valuation evidence and testimony to the McHenry County Board of Review will be reported to IDFPR. Furthermore, only State of Illinois licensed and certified appraisers may submit appraisals as market value evidence. A taxpayer agent or representative who is not a licensed or certified appraiser and submits an appraisal or prepares documents and spreadsheets with qualitative and/or quantitative adjustments made to the comparable sales relative to the subject property will be reported to the IDFPR.”

  • The burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, shifts to the Board of Review and PTAB when a market value-based appeal is supported by a USPAP-compliant appraisal performed by an Illinois appraiser for ad valorem purposes.

This is consistent with most counties’ Board of Review Rules. In McHenry County, it’s rule III(C)(3):

“Appraisal Evidence. The best evidence of fair cash value (in lieu of a recent usable sale price of a subject itself) is a professional appraisal done for ad valorem purposes, …”

  • Taxpayers can recover court costs and fees if they prevail in court and the variance between their claim and the assessment exceeds a certain percentage.  Supported by the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 USC § 2412: Costs and fees.

One example is Georgia’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (SB 177, Act 431, 1999 Session) which states:

“…if the court finds the final value to be 85% or less (80% for commercial property) of the board of equalization’s determination of value…”

  • If assessments increase above a certain amount, a written explanation must be provided.
  • If a Taxpayer’s appeal is rejected, a written explanation must be furnished.
  • Licensure and regulation of assessors by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation (would include individual license numbers).

The basis for the bill’s success is:

  • similar legislation has been achieved in other states (if it can be implemented there, it can be in Illinois) and
  • everyone “wins” without foregoing the revenue upon which many taxing bodies rely.

Potentially preferable legislation to House Bills 89, 95, 1499, 1521, 3676 and Senate Bill 1308 because it provides property taxpayer equity versus freezing much-needed local revenues.


Incoming Grafton Township Assessor Al Zielinski Outlines Taxpayer Bill of Rights — 6 Comments

  1. Cal, you and Steve Reick poo pooed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights plan about two weeks ago when Jack Franks proposed it, yet when a Republican proposes it, you say it’s a great idea!

    It’s the same damn thing!

    Shill much today?!

  2. To Al Z,

    I think you have a conflict of interest going on between being the assessor and having your private appraisal businesses.

    Respectfully, someone else should create this document and policy.

    You are too close to it.

  3. This blog’s previous article on the subject was accurate because Representative Franks’ initial proposal lacked the “teeth” of these recommendations.

    Because the wording was so similar, Representative Franks’ offering was likely influenced by an e-mail I sent him on March 20, 2013.

    After learning of Representative Frank’s bill, I sent another e-mail with more detailed suggestions and have since had a phone chat with a member of his staff where I learned of the lawyers’ push backs.

    Representative Tryon was contacted very early this year regarding my suggestions. He was, and remains, fully in support of the bill of rights.

    Senators McConnaughay and Althoff have also been contacted and I’m trying to arrange meetings with each of them.

    It would behoove all property owners to contact their elected officials asking that they support the core elements of the property owners’ taxpayer bill of rights.

    The bill of rights’ sole intent is to level the playing field for property owners regarding their appeals.
    If your representative(s) won’t support it, please ask why.

    There’s no conflict between honest, credible appraisers and assessors because we all want the same thing: accurate property valuations.

    Since I’ll be the one assessing properties and defending those assessments next year, being “close to it” is a very, very good thing.

    Further, having served as an appeal agent for almost a decade gives me the hands-on experience to speak intelligently regarding appeals at the Board and PTAB levels.

  4. Fair Play, your logic is trying to correct your perception, in what you read.

    Cal reports for all of us to read, what is going on in McHenry County politics, and some Illinois . . .

    I think he does a great job.

  5. Alan, however well intentioned, taxpayers don’t need another Magna Carta.

    I think King John already covered this stuff back in the day.

    But what this Serf would really like to see, is some movement from Il. Pols, on the 1300 Townships and 3200 Special(taxing)Districts in this State.

    Run that past some of the other Fuedal Barons.

    I mean, does McHenry County need 15 Fire Protection Districts?


  6. Wow, Al — that’s very presumptuous to say that Franks was influenced by your email alone.

    Couldn’t have been anything else, like some big donor?

    This should actually be called the “Bill of Rights and Lefts” because that’s what we’re going to get.

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