Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I hire Robert H. Rosenfeld & Associates to represent me in my real estate tax law matters?
For over 30 years, Robert H. Rosenfeld & Associates has led the fight against excessive real estate taxes. Whether you own or lease multi-tenant or single family residential, commercial, or industrial properties, our services apply to your ownership/management needs. Let us analyze and appeal your assessment to help you control the ever-increasing burden of real estate taxes. Our team will provide a state-of-the-art, proprietary analysis to determine your prospects for tax relief, and we will use all of our resources to help you save every tax dollar possible. Please note that our attorney’s fees are completely contingent. If there are no savings, there are no attorney’s fees. And there are no research fees or other upfront costs!
How is my assessment calculated?
In Cook County, residential real estate, including many multi-family properties, are assessed at 10% of their fair market value as determined by the Assessor. Commercial properties are assessed at 25% of their fair market value as determined by the Assessor.
In all other counties in the State of Illinois, real estate is assessed at 33.33% of the fair market value as determined by the Assessor.
I just received notice that my property has been reassessed and my assessment increased. Why is this?
Every three years, properties in Cook County are reassessed. For properties in Illinois that are not located in Cook County, the reassessment is done every four years. During the reassessment year for your township, you may notice an increase in your assessment. This is due to budget requirements for various local taxing bodies and updated market data. The Assessors generally use sales data to determine fair market value.
Are there any up-front costs when retaining Robert H. Rosenfeld & Associates?
There are no research or other upfront cost. Our attorney’s fees are 100% contingent, so you will only be billed when/if we obtain a reduction in assessment or a refund for your property.
How are tax savings and attorney’s fees calculated? Can you provide an example?
The tax savings are calculated by multiplying the reduction in assessment by the last ascertainable equalized tax rate for the area in which the property is located. Attorney’s fees are calculated as the agreed upon percentage of these savings. For example:
Original assessment = 100,000
Reduced assessment as result of appeal = 90,000
Difference in assessment/reduction = 10,000
Last ascertainable equalized tax rate = 24%
Fee percentage = 45%
Tax savings = 10,000 (reduction) X 0.24 (tax rate) = $2,400
Attorney’s fees = $2,400 (tax savings) X 0.45 (attorney percentage) = $1,080
Total tax savings over triennial period = $7,200
Total attorney’s fee = $1,080
Why is the contingent percentage of the attorneys’ fees different every year?
The structure of our fee agreement is always the same. We charge a contingent percentage of the first year’s tax savings. The contingent percentage amount charged against the first year’s savings changes based on the number of year’s savings that you realize. The more years the savings obtained stays in effect during the assessment cycle, the higher the percentage of the first year’s savings charged. Importantly, there are no Attorneys’ fees ever unless we save you money, and we do not charge any research or other up front fees.
Are there fees charged on multiple years for the same reduction?
We only charge a percentage of the savings obtained in the first year of the reduction.
Is there a separate charge for filing a claim for a refund?
A claim for a refund for over-payment of taxes made to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board or the Circuit Court is a separate legal procedure from the appeal filed with the Assessor or Board of Review. If we prevail in a claim for a refund for overpayment, the relief obtained will come in the form of a refund check, rather than a reduction on your tax bill. In this instance, we charge a separate contingent percentage fee of the amount of the refund obtained.
What is a certificate of error and why is there a separate legal fee of 33%?
Generally you cannot seek a reduction in your assessment for tax years once the appellate period closes in the township where your property is located. An exception to this general rule is if there is a mistake in fact which caused your property to be over assessed. Examples of mistakes in fact are overstated square footage or an unreported or understated vacancy rate for a commercial property. If we can show a mistake in fact, you can request a reduction of a prior year(s) assessment by filing a certificate of error. This is a separate procedure with a separate legal fee.
How does the appeal process work?
The appeal process is triggered by the issuance of an assessment by the Assessor in the township where your property is located. An assessment is the Assessor’s attribution of value to the property.
In Cook County, real estate is reassessed every 3 years. In all other counties in the State of Illinois, real estate is reassessed every 4 years. There are exceptions to this general rule, so your property can be assessed more often in certain circumstances.
Upon a reassessment of your property, you should receive a written Notice of Reassessment. This is an important legal document which triggers a time limit on your appellate rights. You have 30 days from the date of the Reassessemnt Notice to file your appeal. In Cook County, once the appeal is filed at the county level, it takes approximately 90 days to receive the decision. In other counties, it can take upto 6 months to receive the decision. Once you receive your decision from the Board of Review, you have 30 days to file a subsequent appeal to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board. In any event, appeals filed at the county level are ruled upon prior to that year’s tax bill being issued.
If you retain our services, we do not need a copy of your Notice of Reassessement, and we will timely file your appeals.
Where do you file an appeal?
There are multiple levels of review available in each county in Illinois.
In Cook County, you can appeal your assessment to the Assessor’s office, the Cook County Board of Review and finally to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board or the Circuit Court of Cook County.
In the collar counties, you can appeal to the Board of Review and finally to the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board or the Circuit Court of the particular county where the property is located.
Other counties in Illinois vary, so if you have property located outside the Chicago land area that you are interested in having reviewed, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.
Why is some of the savings reflected in a reduction on your tax bill, and other savings comes in the form of a tax refund years after the taxes were paid?
There are multiple levels of appellate review for real estate tax appeals. In many cases for various reasons, the appeal process continues after the tax bill at issue is due and paid, and the form of relief sought is a refund for over-paid taxes. This process takes a number of years and is filed either in the Circuit Court or the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board.
The savings you reported on my letter of explanation and invoice does not match the difference in my tax bills from last year to this year.
The tax savings is the difference between the original assessed value less the reduced assessed value after the appeal, for the tax year at issue. Your last year’s tax liability, or any prior year’s tax liability, is not relevant to the calculation of the tax savings or the appellate work we perform for you. Our focus is solely on the tax year that you hire us for and that is set forth in our agreement. We are hired to appeal the assessment on the current tax year at issue at the time you hire us. Not the prior year or years. So the relevant point of analysis in determining the tax savings is the reduction in the assessed value for the tax year we were hired to appeal (and not the prior year’s tax), multiplied by the last ascertainable equalized tax rate, as described above.
I may be selling my property. How will this affect my appeal?
Even if you are selling your property, it may still be in your interest to appeal. As a seller, you will be giving a credit at closing for real estate taxes accrued but not yet due for the period of time that you owned the property. Accordingly, it is in your interest to minimize the tax credit given to the buyer by minimizing the taxes that you are still responsible for. Whether it is in your interest to appeal is a case by case determination. You can contact us at anytime and we will analyze the issue with you, at no additional charge.
I received a notification from you that I am due a refund and that I need to provide you with proof of payment of the overpaid taxes. What are my options for providing proof of payment and why do I need to prove I paid the tax when the county obviously knows the tax is paid?
In Cook County only, we either need a copy of the check(s), front and back, or if you paid the tax online, a copy of your bank statement(s), showing payment of the tax bills. This requirement to show proof of payment is a Cook County Treasurer requirement, not ours. If you cannot provide either method of proof, contact us to discuss other options.