Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi announced changes to property tax valuations based on the impact of COVID-19. While the announcement comes at a time when property owners are worried about meeting their financial obligations, a large majority of adjustments to property tax bills will come in 2021 for the second installment of property tax bills.
Cook County conducts a triannual reassessment, meaning that various parts of the county are reassessed every three years. This year is the South Tri reassessment where all properties in the South Tri will be analyzed and assessed for fair market valuations. Owners will not see adjustments until 2021 in townships where reassessments have already occurred. In townships where the reassessments have not occurred, property owners will get more information about their reassessment and additional information about value adjustments based on the impact of COVID-19.
Areas that are not a part of the South Tri reassessment will receive information about the effects of COVID-19. The Assessor will be reviewing all properties and will make adjustments based on market changes since COVID-19 occurred. Therefore, property tax bills due in the second installment in 2021 will likely have the adjustment, although appeals will be accepted and processed.
It is assumed that valuation dates will be the main adjustment for the assessor’s office, though he has not made any official statements on the matter. For example, instead of using market data from January or February 2020 to reassess or value properties, the Assessor will look at market data in the later months of 2020 (March and beyond). Again, this approach is assumed and was not been directly articulated by the Assessor.
Commercial property owners that have experienced a loss of value are encouraged by the Assessor to input data in the Real Property Income and Expense tool. This database has been controversial as REALTORS® have not supported efforts to grant the Assessor authority to mandate the collection of income and expense data for individual properties. Buyers and sellers use operational data to make projections about a property’s earning potential. However, the Assessor is not analyzing properties for purchase, but rather establishing a fair market value (FMV) using mass appraisals. Any commercial property owner that has been hit particularly hard during COVID-19 is advised to appeal their property taxes beginning with the Assessor’s office. Income and expense data will be requested at that time.
Exactly how property values have been impacted is yet to be known. Market fluctuations are anticipated, but the extent of COVID-19 is yet to be truly felt. Commercial property owners have been hit particularly hard given the forced closure of non-essential businesses. During this time, we maintain a sense of hope for better times ahead; however, the state and local governments in Illinois rely heavily on high property taxes. Attempts by the Assessor’s office to adjust all property valuations is a heavy lift and one that will not come easy given the crippling reliance for government revenue.