By Lauren Victory

CHICAGO (CBS) — With many Cook County residents facing the task of writing huge checks next week for property taxes, CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory looks at three solutions to lower your 2020 bill.

Many homeowners recently saw their tax bills explode by as much as 45 percent.

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The appeals process can be daunting, and the multitude of signs at the Cook County assessor’s office shows the department is trying to streamline the process.

However, short of a visit downtown, what’s the least confusing way for a homeowner to lower property taxes?

Tax appeals attorney Tim Hughes says hiring a professional will help take the guesswork out of the appeals game, which involves paperwork and deadlines.

“If that homeowner is not inclined to follow through on seeking the relief, that window will close and then they’ll be kicking themselves next year when the tax bill comes out,” Hughes said. “As an attorney, we’re going to follow through and provide that service.”

However, that can be costly, often hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

So, how about a solution that costs $79?

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Thomas Dowling, 22, recently co-founded a low-cost online appeals services called TaxProper. It crunches numbers using Cook County data on demand. It then files an appeal on your behalf. If you don’t save money on your taxes, you get your $79 back.

“It takes about two minutes, basically,” Dowling said.

“From the assessor’s perspective, the most important thing is how other similar homes are being assessed, as opposed to the true sales price of the home. We identify properties that are statistically identical but are being taxed at different rates.”

Then there’s a free option. Do it yourself. One Chicago homeowner calls this appeal’s process “super simple.”

“They give you all the information when they send you the tax information and once you get that, you just fill out other properties near you, and how much you paid for your property.”

However you choose to appeal, that doesn’t change the fact that your current Cook County property tax bill needs to be paid by Aug. 1.

That isn’t the only deadline. The window to appear your assessment is only 30 days and it varies based on what part of the county you own property. 

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Lauren Victory