The joys of Lake County living are many, but as with any area, there are a few things we would change if we could. One of them is our lovely property taxes (note: sarcasm). Granted, there are so many great things our property taxes allow us: excellent schools, playgrounds, parks, and trails, social services. While you cannot escape paying taxes, it’s important to make sure you’re not overpaying. Keep in mind that I am not a tax professional or attorney, I am speaking as an experienced Realtor, working to save my neighbors, clients, and friends their hard-earned money.

Please note, if you are planning to appeal your taxes, the deadline is 30 days from the date the new assessments are sent out and published. For many of us, that deadline is mid September.

There are two main factors to consider when it comes to lowering your property taxes:

  1. Tax appeal. You always have the option to appeal your taxes, but what exactly does this mean? You’re not appealing your tax rate, that’s a set multiplier that stays the same. What you are appealing is your assessed market value upon which you are taxed. You do not have to hire an attorney to appeal your taxes, but it’s an option, most get paid on a percentage of the decrease, and only when successful. It is possible to appeal yourself and is very easy to do so. You’ll need to show that your assessed market value is higher than it should be by providing comparable real estate listings in your neighborhood, that when compared to your home’s details, will require the assessed market value to be lowered to a reasonable number, i.e. closer to real market value. However, this is just one reason to appeal, there are others such as an error on your property record, it’s important to make sure the square footage, bathroom/bedroom count, finished vs. unfinished basement square footage, etc. are correct. Call your township assessor with any questions, Assessors by Township. Learn more about the appeal process on the Assessment Office webpage. Watch this E-Filing Tutorial video. Begin the e-filing appeal process here. As mentioned, there are deadlines to file your appeal, so make sure you check those dates!
  2. Exemptions. You’ll want to make sure you have claimed all of the property tax exemptions for which you qualify, they reduce your tax burden by lowering the equalized assessed value (the figure upon which you are taxed). The most common is the General Homestead Exemption, which you can claim if the home is your primary residence, i.e. not a rental. If you are a Senior (age 65+ in this case), and the home is your primary, you can claim the Senior Homestead Exemption. Beyond these two basic exemptions, there are also: Senior Freeze, Veteran exemptions, as well as a current military exemption. For more information, check out the Lake County Treasurer’s Tax Relief webpage.

View your property record, which includes your current and past taxes, assessed market value, property details, exemptions claimed, appeals history, etc. at the Lake County Property Tax Record Search. And, I encourage you to call your township tax assessor’s office to learn more about your particular situation.

If you’d rather hire an attorney to handle your appeal, there are many choices. Check how often they win- their success rating, as well as their fees and how they take payment. Most will take a percentage of the amount of your savings over current taxes and will charge nothing if they are unsuccessful. Here are two attorneys’ offices that come recommended: Property Tax Appeals or Lake County Appeal.

Need help? I am more than happy to send you comparable properties to use in your appeal, feel free to send me a message and I’ll get started! Good luck and please share your success stories with us!

… in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes

-Benjamin franklin

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