News From Illinois Residents Empowered By Property Tax Knowledge

Brookfield, IL homeowners Lindsey and Adam Burghgraef were not pleased when they noticed their new tax bill had increased considerably. They weren’t sure what had caused the increase until a friend mentioned that they should start by looking at their most recent home assessment to see if it had changed. “We were grateful for the direction our friend gave us, but frustrated that we weren’t sure how to begin on our own.” said Lindsey.

The Burghgraef’s aren’t alone in discovering a property tax increase, and then wondering where to turn to find out what they might be able to do about it.

One Illinois non-profit organization is working to make sure all property owners know how taxes are assessed and what they can do about it if they feel the assessment is in error. Real Property Alliance, which partners with the Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR), has a short video which steps property owners through the process on its website called “Learn How Illinois Property Taxes are Assessed.”

“In a state where there are so many taxing bodies, we felt it was important that property owners have a resource to gain a basic understanding of what can at first glance seem like a very complicated, bureaucratic process,” said IAR spokesman Jon Broadbooks. “If you know how an assessor arrives at the number on a tax bill, then you are going to be better prepared to do something about it.”

The video is part of an array of information available on the website, www.realpropertyalliance.org, The organization offers free downloads of publications on topics ranging from how to stage a home for a quicker sale to understanding the costs of buying a home. The organization also provides housing data for the state and updates on issues of interest to property owners.

“The idea behind Real Property Alliance is to de-mystify the property ownership process and give consumers the tools they need to better protect their private property rights,” Broadbooks said.

Lindsey and Adam followed their friend’s advice and contacted the Cook County Assessor’s office. The office suggested they begin by looking at comparable properties on cookcountyassessor.com to determine if an incorrect assessment was actually playing a part in their larger tax bill. In the end they did determine their assessment was too high and filed a successful appeal.

Lindsey admitted that it would have been great to have been aware of resources like the Real Property Alliance’s video before they began. “Not having a full understanding of how the Illinois property tax process worked made it difficult for us to feel confident we were approaching everything correctly.”

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