A guide to appealing your property taxes

By Martha Stoffel

O’Fallon property owners received notice last week from the St. Clair County Assessor’s office of their 2018 assessment change based on the quadannual reassessments that were completed earlier this year. 

Property is assessed at a 33.33 percent median level of assessment, based on the fair cash value of the property. Taxpayers will find the new, fair market value on their notices. Taxes on the property are calculated based on one-third of that value, known as the equalized assessed value (EAV). The property’s prior year and current EAV are located in the lower left corner of the assessment change postcards. 

Property owners may file an objection to their assessment by submitting an appeal application to the Board of Review within 30 days of receiving the 2018 assessment cards. The filing deadline for properties within O’Fallon Township is September 14, 2018. The most common objections are an assessment higher than market value or an assessment that is not equitable to similar properties.

The Property Tax Assessment Complaint form, form PTAX-230, is available on the County’s website (www.co.st-clair.il.us) in the Board of Review Department forms. Applications must be post marked by the deadline to file, or property owners may file in person at the Board of Review office in the St. Clair County Courthouse located at #10 Public Square, Belleville, IL 62220.

When submitting the application, property owners may choose to receive the decision with or without an oral hearing with a Board of Review member. If a hearing is requested, it is not necessary to submit evidence with the complaint form. For property owners wishing to receive the decision without an oral hearing, duplicates of evidence supporting the appeal must be submitted with the complaint form. 

For an appeal, the property owner will need to provide evidence of an inaccurate assessment by the county. Types of evidence for consideration: your property and three comparable properties in your neighborhood, a recent appraisal, recent sales contract for qualified sale and pictures indicating condition issues. 

When considering comparable properties for an appeal, those properties should contain the same number of stories, similar square footage and finished basement square footage. This information is located on the Property Record Card with the county, which is accessible on the Real Estate Tax Inquiry website (http://www.co.st-clair.il.us/Pages/parcel.aspx). This website will also provide the assessment values of comparable homes needed for the appeal. Make sure to have the year 2018 selected when reviewing assessments. 

A full list of evidence needed to substantiate a claim of an unfair assessment is located on the appeal application. Some evidence may be obtained in person from the Assessor’s office or found on the St. Clair County website. Specific questions or assistance with an appeal should be directed to the St. Clair County Board of Review at (618) 277-6600. 

If a property owner is not satisfied with the decision of the St. Clair County Board of Review after an appeal, they may choose to appeal to the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board. Appeals made to the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board take significantly longer for resolution, and property taxes are required to be paid “in protest” to the county during the wait time. 

Property owners are also encouraged to review their tax bill and records with the county to make sure they are receiving all eligible exemptions. Exemptions reduce the taxable value, or EAV, of the property. The most common is the General Homestead Exemption. To be eligible for this exemption, the taxpayer must own and occupy the property as their principal dwelling. The assessment reduction amount is $6,000 and an annual renewal is not required after initial application. 

If you know of anyone who is fraudulently claiming a homestead exemption on a property, you may contact the Homestead Fraud Hotline at 618-825-2518 or file an anonymous, online report by visiting the Assessor’s website www.co.st-clair.il.us (choose Residents, Assessor’s Office). When someone is receiving an exemption to which they are not entitled, law-abiding property owners must make up the difference in lost tax revenue by paying higher taxes.