School District’s PTAB Appeal Results in Increased Tax Revenues
Jul 8, 2013
As most taxing district officials know, when a taxpayer wins a property tax appeal at the State of Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board (“PTAB”), that taxpayer receives a refund that is taken directly from the taxing bodies’ revenue disbursements. These disruptive refunds can climb to thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. What many taxing district officials may not know is that the PTAB can also grant tax increases. Thus, when a taxing body takes a stand against under-assessed properties or unjustified reductions, the taxing body can be rewarded for its efforts by receiving additional tax money. Most recently, the PTAB granted such an increase in favor of a DuPage County School District who refused to accept an unsupported reduction. Based on the PTAB’s decision, a Taxpayer must pay the School District and the other taxing bodies thousands of dollars in additional tax money.
In the case of Community Consolidated School District No. 93 v. DuPage County Board of Review and Chicago Industrial Investments, the Taxpayer filed appeals with the DuPage County Board of Review seeking large assessment reductions for its two industrial warehouse facilities in Carol Stream. When the School District received statutory notice that the Taxpayer filed appeals seeking assessment reductions of more than $100,000 on these properties, the School District exercised its right to intervene and participate in the Board of Review proceedings. At the Board of Review, the School District, through its attorneys, presented an appraiser’s opinion that the Township Assessor’s value was correct, and that the Board of Review should deny the Taxpayer’s request for an assessment reduction. When the Board of Review granted the assessment reduction over the School District’s objection, the School District responded by filing an undervaluation appeal with the PTAB.
At the PTAB, both sides filed appraisals in support of their proposed values. The Taxpayer’s appraisal was so low that it would have supported an even larger reduction than the Taxpayer had already received from the Board of Review. On the other hand, the School District’s appraisal concluded that the property’s fair cash value supported a tax increase. At the PTAB hearing, the School District, represented by Kenneth M. Florey and Scott L. Ginsburg of Robbins Schwartz, cross-examined the author of the Taxpayer’s appraisal on many of the errors and inconsistencies in the appraisal report. The School District also argued that the appraisal was flawed because the appraiser failed to place primary weight on the sales comparison approach to value, which is the preferred valuation approach in Illinois. In stark contrast, the School District’s appraiser supported its value conclusion using the sales comparison approach, and by relying on recent sales of similar properties in the same neighborhood as the properties at issue. On June 21, 2013, the PTAB rendered a decision rejecting the Taxpayer’s appraisal, adopting the School District’s appraisal and granting the full increase requested by the School District. The PTAB held that the “totality of the evidence in this record” and “credibility of the witnesses” supported a conclusion that the Board of Review’s assessment was incorrect, and that School District No. 93 submitted the best evidence regarding the subject’s fair market value.”
As demonstrated by the increase in Community Consolidated, a tax appeal need not always result in a refund. Even when a taxpayer can nominally support an over-assessment claim with an appraisal, the taxpayer must still prove that the appraisal is credible and reliable under Illinois law. By intervening and participating in these cases, and working with counsel experienced in assessment appeals, taxing bodies can save, and even gain, thousands of dollars.