Chicago Tax Appeals Step-by-Step

Chicago Tax Appeals Step-by-Step

By Lauren Elliott, Attorney with Elliott & Associates Attorneys, P.C., and Angela Duea, LMS Communications Manager

In Illinois, real estate is taxed on its market value. The higher the market value, the higher the tax. And the lower the market value, the lower the tax. You know this from Part One of our series, which explains:

  • How a real estate tax bill is calculated, and
  • How your property is assessed (and specifically, how the assesor determines the value of a condominium unit)

In this Part Two, you can learn:

  • How the real estate tax appeal process works in Cook County, and
  • How long the appeals process takes


Step One: Contesting an Assessment

The process begins with the Assessor valuing the property for tax purposes. The value is called the assessment. At least every three years, property in Illinois is reassessed; this is called a triennial re-assessment.

Taxpayers have the right to contest their assessment by filing a real estate tax appeal. Condominium owners frequently appeal on the basis that sales in the building have been lower than the market value of the assessment, or that the assessment is not uniform with other units of the same common area percent, or because of vacancy due to a catastrophic event.

If a taxpayer wins his appeal, the tax bill he receives in the future will be smaller than the bill he would have received had no appeal been filed. If the tax bill has already paid, the taxpayer will receive a tax refund.

Chicago is assessed this year. In this reassessment year, the Assessor will mail a notice to the taxpayer indicating the proposed new assessment. Assessment notices are released by township. Below is a  tentative mailing schedule for  reassessment townships; a  complete schedule is updated by the assessor and can be accessed here [click here].

Rogers Park              4/16/2018
Lake View                  4/30/2018
West                           8/24/2018
Hyde Park                 6/18/2018
Lake                            7/27/2018
Jefferson                    7/05/2018
North Chicago           9/14/2018
South Chicago          10/5/2018

Step Two: The Appeal Decision

There are 38 townships in Cook County, and between January and October the Assessor typically opens 4 to 5 townships for appeals each month. Each township has a 30-day period each year for taxpayers to file appeals. Listed above are only the Chicago reassessment townships. Appeals in non-reassessment years are few and far between and often at the recommendation of your attorney.

 Step Three: Appealing the Assessor’s Decision

After the Assessor renders his decisions, the taxpayer will have a second opportunity to appeal, this time to the Board of Review of Cook County. The Board generally takes about 90 to 120 days to conduct hearings and render decisions on appeals filed to the Board of Review. Again, appeals are accepted by filing deadline and filing deadlines are issued by township. The Board will open each township for 30-days.

The Board does not usually open until August 1st of each year, so the first filing deadlines occur around that time. Then, later in the appeal season, the Board tends to open a township for filing about 30-days after the Assessor renders his decisions. The Board typically takes 2 to 3 months to complete hearings and render decisions for all appeals in a township. The Assessor and Board of Review appeal seasons are generally depicted below.

Real Estate Tax Appeal Season for property located in the City of Chicago for the 2018 tax year
2018 2019
April May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. March April May June July Aug.
 ← Assessor Appeal Season →

Issues reassessment notices

Open for appeals; filing deadline depends on township

← Board of Review Appeal Season →

Open for appeals, filing deadline depends on township

2018 1st Instal. Tax bills mailed
2018 2nd Instal. Tax bills mailed
Source: Elliott & Associates, Attorneys P.C.


Step Four: Filing a Final Appeal

After the Board of Review renders its decisions, the taxpayer will have a final opportunity to file an appeal to either (1) the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB), or (2) the Circuit Court of Cook County. Taxpayers generally decide to continue the appeal by weighing the strength of the evidence and the amount of the potential tax savings against the costs of further appeal and the risk of an increase in taxes. Typically, 10% or less of all appeals carry on to PTAB, and even less are appealed to the Court.

Successful appeals to the Assessor or Board of Review will cause the next 2nd installment tax bill (before exemptions) to be smaller than it would have been had no appeal been filed. Appeals to PTAB or Court are always resolved after the tax bill is issued. As a result, if you win those appeals, you will receive a tax refund.

Appeals to PTAB must be filed within 30-days of the Board of Review’s final decision for the township. Appeals to the Court must be filed within five and a half months after the second installment tax bill is due. Appeals to PTAB often take one to three years to resolve. Some cases, however, are settled and resolved fairly quickly – in 12 to 18 months. Others proceed to trial and take more time to resolve. Court cases are usually resolved 18 to 24 months after they’ve been filed, but highly contested cases could take longer.

If you have questions about the tax appeal process, or are curious about where your building is at in the appeals process, contact your LMS property manager.