The Two Most Common Grounds for Property Tax Appeals and the Differences Between Them

 

Written by Ron Kingsley
Lake County Appeal, Owner and Tax Attorney
 

In general, I have found that Lake County Appeal’s clients are aware of one of the two most common grounds for property tax appeals in Lake County: one based on comparable sales (“comparable sales appeals”), and one based on equality of assessment (“uniformity of assessment appeals”).  However, they are often unaware that either (or both) can be grounds for a property tax appeal. 

Comparable Sales Appeals 

These appeals are the most common type and are based on sales of properties similar to the property being appealed (the “subject”).  In general, unless an appraisal is used, only sales in the subject’s area can be used (typically the subject’s neighborhood in the case of residential property).  The strongest case is made when the sales comparables were sold recently.  Moreover, the subject and the sales comps. should be similar types of properties and of similar ages.  Differences in attributes between the subject and the comparables must be taken into account.  (Lake County Appeal takes up to 17 differences in attributes into account.)  Finally, to support an appeal, at least three comparables must have sold for less $ / square foot than the subject is assessed at, with as few as possible that sold for more $ / square foot. 

Uniformity of Assessment Appeals 

In Lake County, appeals based on the lack of uniformity of assessments are substantially less common than comparable sales appeals, but they become more common with the passing of each year in the quadrennial assessment period (presently 2019—2022).  The “crux” of a uniformity of assessment appeal is inequality of assessment…Nearly identical properties (using the above similarity criteria) are assessed quite differently on a $ / square foot basis.  Like in the case of comparable sales appeals., a uniformity-based appeal can be filed for building and for land differentials.  Again, to support an appeal, at least three comparable properties must be assessed for fewer $ / square foot than the subject is assessed at, with as few as possible assessed for more $ / square foot. 

Comparable sales appeals and Uniformity of Assessment Appeals Together 

Although rare, a property tax appeal can be based on both grounds…Sales of properties similar to the subject, as well as the inequality of assessed $ / square foot between comparable properties in the same area.  Typically, in Lake County, comparable sales appeals are more likely to be successful than uniformity appeals.