Evanston property owners will find a probably unwelcome missive from the Cook County Assessor’s office in their mailboxes soon. Reassessment notices for Evanston go into the mail today.

The new assessments are also available online. You can search for yours here.

County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, at a Levy Center meeting Thursday, said the median assessment increase in Evanston is 30.3 percent, which is meant to reflect the change in property values since the last assessment three years ago.

By comparison, Real Estate Transfer Tax records show that the average selling price for properties in Evanston rose 29.1 percent over the past two years.

Commissioner Suffredin told the roughly 50 people at the meeting that a 30 percent assessment increase doesn’t mean that next year’s tax bill will be going up that much.

Because of the rising assessments, taxing bodies will be able to lower their tax rates, and so the actual average tax bill increases will likely be much more modest.

But he said the reassessment provides an opportunity for homeowners to challenge the valuation assigned to their homes by the assessor, and a successful challenge could result in significant savings.

Taxpayers have 30 days to file an appeal with the assessor’s office.

Commissioner Suffredin said that based on his experience helping taxpayers with appeals three years ago, he believes that they shouldn’t get their hopes too high for relief from the assessor’s office, and that they instead need to expect to have to move on to the second appeal level, the county Board of Review.

He said new members of the review board seem to be much more receptive to taxpayer appeals than the members who were on the board three years ago.

There are three grounds for appealing an assessment:

  • Uniformity — The assessed value of your property is not in line with values assigned similar properties in your neighborhood.
  • Over-valuation — The assessed value of your property is higher than its actual value.
  • Property description error — The assessor lists your property as being larger than it actually is or having high-value features that it doesn’t actually have.

Commissioner Suffredin said that only people who show property description errors are likely to win their initial appeal to the assessor’s office, while the Board of Review is more receptive to the other types of claims. He said uniformity is the most common reason for assessment appeals.

He said that in his experience far fewer people take their appeals to the second level, but of those who do, about two-thirds win assessment reductions.

A copy of the appeal form is included with the reassessment notice. It’s also available online at the assessor’s web site. The web site also provides a searchable database of all properties in the county, which taxpayers can use to learn the assessed values of similar properties in their neighborhood.

Commissioner Suffredin said property owners with questions about the appeal process can call his office at 847-864-1209 for more information.

Related stories

Assessment hikes vary by neighborhood – March 30

Tax cap expiration would lead to 18.5% tax hike in Evanston – March 28

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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