Homes and buildings along 18th Street in Pilsen on Jan. 23, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

PILSEN — More Pilsen homeowners will see a reduction in their property tax bill later this year, officials said.

The Cook County Board of Review, the tax appeals board, said there was a 25 percent increase in individual filings for assessment appeals for the 2022 tax year compared to the last assessment cycle in 2018 — from 9,486 filings to 11,907.

This led to a 52 percent increase in appeals granted to Pilsen homeowners in that time period, Board of Review Commissioner George Cardenas said.

“It’s important to keep people in their homes,” said Cardenas, who represents the district that includes Pilsen and much of the Southwest Side. “For me, my ability and the power of the office really lies on checking the information provided by the assessor … and if we do it in a way that is diligent, we’re going to come out of it with a good result.”

The Cook County Board of Review encourages people to apply for an appeal every year, according to the office. It is a way for homeowners to challenge the assessed value of their home if they feel there’s been an over-valuation, or if there are characteristics of your home that have been incorrectly listed, like its size or history of renovations.

The Pilsen homeowners who were granted an appeal saw an average reduction of nearly 11 percent in the assessed value of their home, said Cardenas, who formerly served as 12th Ward alderman.

“That’s pretty significant when you look at the totality of what people have to pay,” he said.

These reductions will be on people’s second bill installment, which is slated to be delivered to neighbors by Nov. 1 with a due date of Dec. 1, according to the Cook County website.

Cardenas said the Board of Review has expanded its outreach in Pilsen and the Southwest Side since the winter, when many residents and activists blasted the county for skyrocketing property taxes.

A crowd gathered Downtown Jan. 12, 2023 at Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s office to speak out after Pilsen residents were hit hard with property tax increases this year. Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago

People began staging rallies late last year, demanding action from city and county officials after homeowners were slapped with soaring property tax increases on their second installment bill for the 2021 tax year. 

An analysis from the Cook County Treasurer’s Office showed neighbors in Pilsen, Avondale and Rogers Park — all gentrifying neighborhoods — have been hit hardest by property tax increases.

In January, over a dozen people protested in the Cook County Assessor’s Office to ask Assessor Fritz Kaegi to meet with Pilsen neighbors, which he agreed to and fulfilled.

In response, both the assessor’s office and board of review partnered with community groups to host workshops, answer questions and deliver bilingual materials about how to file for reductions.

RELATED: Hundreds In Pilsen Demand Relief From Soaring Property Tax Hikes As Assessor Promises 1-On-1 Help

“This is something that we’re going to continue to do across all townships,” Cardenas said.

Cardenas converted his old aldermanic office at 3476 S. Archer Ave. into a Board of Review satellite office to meet the demand for taxpayer assistance, he said.

The office is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, and no appointment is needed.

The window for Pilsen homeowners to file an appeal for the 2022 tax year is over, but the window for the 2023 tax year is expected to open in about two weeks, according to the Board of Review.

Homes in Pilsen on Jan. 23, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

Another way homeowners can save on their property taxes is by filing a tax savings exemption with the assessor’s office.

The deadline to file for an exemption this year is Friday.

Though it is separate from an assessment appeal, a tax exemption similarly reduces people’s property taxes. There are a variety of exemptions people can be eligible for, including living in the home you own, being a senior on a fixed income, having a disability or being a veteran returning from active duty, according to the office.

Like an assessment appeal, tax exemption savings are seen on the second bill installment coming to homeowners this fall.

However, homeowners can also file for past years when they may have been eligible for an exemption but didn’t file for one. People can redeem up to three years of missed exemptions through a certificate of error process, said a spokesperson for the assessor’s office.

Homeowners can learn more about how to file for previous years’ exemptions here.

In addition to doing more community outreach, both the assessor’s office and the board of review said their leaders are actively working together to explore potential tax policy reform.

Any changes to the tax code would have to be made at the state level, according to the two offices.

“A working group with representatives of all the offices of the property tax system are communicating better than before with weekly meetings to discuss timelines and much-needed policy reforms to the system,” said a spokesperson for the assessor’s office. “Additionally, we are meeting with members of the general assembly to determine what legislative solutions can help homeowners who feel their property taxes are too high.”

One piece of policy residents say could help is the Long-Time Homeowner Exemption. Currently, it only affects about 2 percent of Cook County residents, according to the assessor’s office.

If altered, this is something Pilsen residents say could help keep longtime homeowners in the neighborhood.

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