The Cook County Board of Review has settled a record number of cases in closing its 2016 session, fueled largely by property taxpayers seeking relief from some of the highest property taxes in the country.
According to a CCBOR press release, commissioners adjudicated assessment appeals on 422,449 parcels in 208,147 cases, which is the largest number of cases filed in the board’s history.
More than 85 percent of those appeals came from residential homeowners.
Commissioner Dan Patlak said the increase can also be attributed, in part, to the commissioners' commitment to increasing awareness and availability of the system to Cook County residents.
“We have held a large number of assessment seminars to inform residents of the system, which has helped them tremendously,” Patlak told the Cook County Record.
The board was created as a check and balance to the Assessor’s office, the press release noted, as a way for property owners to appeal the assessment placed on their property. Each year, the county collects and distributes to various taxing districts over $13 billion in property tax revenues annually.
Each property owner is responsible for property tax based on the assessed value of their property, which is set by the Cook County Assessor’s Office. The Board of Review offers property owners the ability to dispute the assessment placed by the assessor’s office.
The board hears more than 400,000 property index number appeals comprising 180,000-200,000 dockets every year.
The year 2016 was the second year of the board's Digital Appeals Processing System (DAPS), which created a more streamlined digital workflow for the appeals process. Prior to 2016, the board relied on a paper-based system. The system made it more accessible to residents, particularly after the board offered community programs to educate property owners on the system and how to file appeals.
Patlak said DAPS allowed the board to adjudicate a record number of appeals on time.
“We had the highest number of cases filed in the history of the board, a dedicated staff that tirelessly tackled this tsunami, and as a result, tax bills will be mailed out on time,” he said.
“The record numbers can be attributed to people that are just overwhelmed with property tax,” Patlak said. “Many of these people are looking for some way to find some relief."
Patlak noted property owners do not need an attorney to file an assessment appeal.
“Property owners can file on their own, it’s easy and can be done over the internet,” Patlak said. “There are also assessors available to help individuals."