HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (CBS) – Dozens of people are showing up at tax offices across Cook County to protest their latest property tax bills. CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.
These people are really ticked off. They’re not only angry, they’re baffled. Many of them were asking the same question: how can my property values go down and my property tax bill go up?READ MORE: Chicago Weather Alert: Heavy Lake Effect Snow To Continue Through Early Afternoon, With 4-7 Inches Already Fallen
“My taxes went up $1,200,” said homeowner Gina Samolinski.
It’s a staggering increase for any homeowner, but Samolinski is unemployed. So is her husband. They live in a two-bedroom home in Elk Grove Village with their 3-year-old son.
“I don’t know where we’re going to come up with this money,” she said. “I can’t afford it. I just can’t.”
Samolinski was among the many frustrated homeowners who packed the Schaumburg Township Assessor’s office. They came from nine villages within the township. The average tax increase is $2,500.
Karen Bates beat the average with a $3,400 hike.
When she saw the increase, Bates said she “started shaking really bad.”
Bates is retired. She’s lived in a house in unincorporated Schaumburg for 32 years.READ MORE: Chicago Weather Alert: Flight Cancellations At Chicago Airports Amid Heavy Lake Effect Snow
“To me, it’s very frustrating. I know there’s gotta be a mistake,” said Bates.
Not necessarily. Unfortunately, for 80 percent of the people complaining, the Township Assessor says the bill is correct. Even though in many cases, the property values dropped.
“It’s hard to explain to people that their assessed value went down but their tax bills went up,” said Schaumburg Township Assessor John Lawson. “And that is based on the state equalizer rate, and that is based on the local taxes.”
That equalizer is on the far right hand side of your bill. So if that number went up to 3.37 from 2.97, your taxes went up. Bottom line: the increase in taxes wiped out any decrease in your property values.
“You have to appeal,” said Lawson.
When you appeal your property taxes you’re basically saying to the county that your house is not worth as much as they think it is, and therefore your tax rate should be lower. That would decrease your tax bill.
Unfortunately, you can’t appeal your taxes until the spring.
In the meantime, you can make sure you’ve received a tax credit for things like being a veteran, a senior citizen, and a longtime homeowner. Those exemptions can reduce your taxes a couple of hundred dollars apiece.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather Alert: Snow Totals From Lake Effect Snowstorm
Protests are also taking place in other counties. CBS 2 randomly called six or seven assessor’s offices, and they also reported long lines of angry people.