Monday, September 24, 2007

Real estate taxes too high? Speak now or forever hold your peace!

Its the least wonderful time of the year... when Peoria County rolls out their new tax assessments. Chances are, you got socked pretty good this year. How do I know? My experience has shown that it is directly proportional to the number of people who call me and ask for help protesting their taxes. And this year has been a doo-sie. Coincidentally, (ha!!!) The Board of Appeals has also changed their rules to make it more DIFFICULT for you to appeal. But fear not, I will simplify things and impart upon you the small amount of knowledge you need to successfully appeal your taxes.

First of all, if you live in Kickapoo or West Peoria Twp, you can STOP reading. Its too late to appeal your taxes for the 2007 tax year (payable 2008). If you live in Peoria, read on - you have until October 18. IF YOU DO NOT APPEAL YOUR TAX ASSESSMENT BEFORE OCTOBER 18 OF THIS YEAR DO NOT COMPLAIN WHEN YOU GET YOUR BILL IN JUNE 2008.

First step, go here and read. Here is a tip - if you don't understand something you read there, The Board of Review office isn't really that interested in explaining it to you. Somehow their phone gets disconnected before they have a chance to say "goodbye".

Step 2. Download this form and this form for residential real estate. Tip: If you also choose to download the RULES, you will notice that it states "It is strongly recommended that the taxpayer discuss his/her assessment with the Township Assessor prior to the filing of a complaint with the Board of Review." Do not be fooled by this... this is only so they have a chance to talk you out of it. A phone call of this nature will not lower your tax assessment so don't waste your time!

Step 3 - You must form a basis for your complaint. There are several ways to accomplish this. The easiest is to totally SUCK UP to your Realtor and ask them to provide you with comparable sales via the Multiple Listing Service to support a lower assessment. They should be happy to oblige and most likely will not charge you for this service. If you have been a chronic FSBO all your life you might be on your own for this one. You will then have to trot on down to your friendly Supervisor of Assessments office which is on the main level of the courthouse and rummage through Subdivision files, looking for recent sales of homes similar to yours that support (not defeat) your claim to a lower tax assessment. Don't forget to bring your readers. I have found the folks at this office to be quite consistently helpful and personable.

Step 4 - Fill out the aforementioned forms.

Step 5 - Trot back down to the Supervisor of Assessments Office and ask for the PROPERTY RECORD CARD for all of the homes you used as comparables. This will cost you a few dollars and if you do it over the lunch hour it can be quite an experience. The form will ask you if you wish to appear for a hearing or if they should decide on what you submitted. TIP - Ask for a hearing but prepare for them to decide without you. This is because when they send you a hearing time and you are not available (um, well like, maybe... YOU WORK!) they will NOT reschedule but will instead base their decision on what you submitted. Even though you requested a hearing. This is the Peoria Supervisor of Assessments at work to serve you!

Step 6 - Attend your hearing. Do not allow them to intimidate you. Be polite and prepared. It is possible they will reach a mutual agreement with you then and there to a lower assessment. If not, you will recieve a notice of their decision via snail mail.

Step 7 - If you are denied, and you still feel you are right, you can take it to the State level of appeals. I will reserve that commentary for another post. If you have won, put a 6 pack of Corona's on ice and give me a call!

Suffice it to say I am intimately acquainted with every one of these steps, because I have found that Peoria has a tendency to overassess, particularly in newer areas on the North side of town. It is your RIGHT and OBLIGATION to keep your assessments fair and reasonable. I have contacted the Peoria Journal Star and the Times Observer to do some reporting on this subject, as I have found it to be an issue that is very significant, yet under-reported, and therefore, leaves the average Peorian ignorant of the process and helpless to the whims of the Township Assessors. Neither news media has responded. So, I leave it to the blogging and internet community work their grass roots magic and get the word out to help our fellow Peorians!

12 comments:

lgroezinger@insightbb.com said...

Diane, that was a great public service you performed with that post. Unfortuntely, we live in West Peoria. :( But some relatives who live in the City of Peoria will find it VERY useful and save us the trouble of explaining it all to them! :)

Kevin Lowe said...

Great post! Very useful info. I'll forward a link to my mom, who is contemplating a protest.

Diane Vespa said...

darn it, Linda, I'm sorry. I didn't realize until I wrote this post last night that I had missed the West Peoria deadline. I'll do better next year!

WLW said...

Thanks for the post, it will give me some good reading, especially since I'll be trying to get into real estate soon.

Anonymous said...

If you want to see what your neighbors are assessed at, go here:

http://66.99.203.101/assessor/realasp1.asp

You need MS Explorer... the page does not play nice with Firefox.

-- Mahkno

Diane Vespa said...

My boss just brought up an important point.. and that is this is considered a "baseline" year. In other words, this year it is critically important that you are assessed correctly... as you will be living with that assessment over the next 4 years! "I'm ashamed I didn't think of that myself" - Scarlett O'hara

Diane Vespa said...

Thanks to the blogosphere for spreading the word on this important subject. I talked with DeWayne Bartels this afternoon and he will be doing a story on it for next weeks Times-Observer. Thanks DeWayne, you are a riot! Make sure you quote me properly Buddy or I'll have to hunt ya down ;-)

Diane Vespa said...

I'm huntin' him down!

Frustrated said...

Is purchasing a home at a price significantly lower than the assessed valuation sufficient justification to support a protest, assuming the protest is filed in a timely manner??

Diane Vespa said...

Absolutely. In fact, if it wasn't a foreclosure or bankruptcy, they should agree to a "stipulation" - that is, you both agree that the new assessed valuation becomes 1/3 of your purchase price.

Diane Vespa said...

...and I believe you can agree to a stipulation at any time, that is, you don't have to wait for the protest period. Bring a copy of your HUD statement that you received at closing and a copy of the warranty deed to the Assessment Office. You may want to call in advance for an appointment.

Frustrated said...

Thank Ms. Vespa. This is just the info I needed.