Frequently Asked Questions
PROPERTY IDENTIFICATION AND RECORDING
A PIN, or property index number (also called a permanent real estate index number), is a unique 14-digit number that represents a parcel of land for taxation purposes. The PIN is a numerical code for the legal description of the parcel, as that parcel has been defined for the purposes of real estate taxes. The PIN is the formatted code which points to the parcel's location on the county tax maps.
To learn how to use your PIN, visit the Cook County Clerk’s web page: "More About PINs
" or call the Cook County Clerk’s Mapping Department at (312) 603-5640.
Most property deeds reflect the PIN(s) covered in the transfer of the property. Your property tax bill or a recent assessment notice will also show the PIN.
How do I search for my PIN by address?
How can I record or get a copy of my property deed? And how can I find out the owner of a property?
The Cook County Recorder of Deed’s Office maintains the official government records regarding property ownership. Instructions regarding Official Recordings, or obtaining copies of recordings can be found at the Cook County Recorder of Deeds website.
What is a legal description? And where can I get a certified copy?
A legal description uniquely describes a parcel of land without ambiguity. The most common legal description references lots and/or blocks within an existing subdivision number. There are also descriptions by metes and bounds, which describe in prose the geometry of a parcel's perimeter.
When a parcel lies within a platted subdivision, the legal description is usually short, because the lots described are represented by specific dimensions and boundaries on the subdivision plat. A metes and bounds description can be very lengthy and may contain bearings and distances for each line, with descriptive geometry for each curve and references to adjacent land.
For a fee, the Cook County Clerk's Office can provide maps of Cook County, a tax map of a specific area or parcel, and copies of the official legal description of the property used for taxation purposes. You can also call the Cook County Clerk’s Office Mapping Department at (312) 603-5640 for further assistance.
Where can I find my new PIN if my PIN from last year is now void?
You can call the Mapping Department of the Cook County Clerk's Office
at (312) 603-5640. They will assist you with your current and previous PIN numbers if there have been changes to the PIN over time. The Divisions Department of the Cook County Assessor’s Office can also assist you with PIN changes.
How do I consolidate or divide PINs?
The Divisions Department of the Cook County Assessor’s Office is responsible for processing all Divisions or Consolidations of PINs. The office website provides Division and Consolidation Applications and instructions found under the Forms section.
TAXPAYER NAME AND ADDRESS INFORMATION
How do I verify my name and address information?
Your current name and address information can be found either on your property tax bill, your assessment notice or online at the Cook County Treasurer's Office
How do I change my name and mailing address information?
You can change your name and mailing address the following ways:
The Treasurer’s Office cannot change the mailing address information of a mortgage company, bank or other taxpaying agent who pays on behalf of the taxpayer. When a property owner pays through escrow, it is important that the owner receive the bill for payment monitoring purposes so that he or she receives all important tax-reducing exemption, assessment and delinquency notices.
- When paying your property tax bill, fill out the back portion of the tax bill stub with the new name and/or billing address. Have it notarized and mail it with your payment.
- Complete a mail-in application for change of name/address. Forms are available at our office and can be downloaded from the Cook County Treasurer's Office website. Mail-in forms must be notarized and addressed to the Treasurer’s office located at 118 N. Clark Street, Room 102, Chicago, IL 60602.
- If you submit the form in person without notarization, you must bring your 14-digit Property Index Number (PIN) and Valid State ID/Driver’s License.
How do I verify or change my property location information?
Your property location information can be found either on your property tax bill, your assessment notice and online if you enter your PIN the at Cook County Assessor's Office website.
If the property location needs to be updated, contact the Cook County Assessor's Office at 312.603.7509 or obtain the form from the Cook County Assessor's Office website.
PROPERTY VALUE QUESTIONS AND APPEALS
Where can I get an explanation of my property value? And where can I learn more about property classification, incentives, landmarks and assessment procedures?
The Cook County Assessor's Office is responsible for valuing the more than 1.3 million residential parcels in Cook County. Cook County is divided into three assessment districts (City, North and South). Each of the assessment districts is valued once every three years.
The Cook County Assessor’s Office uses a computer-assisted mass appraisal method to value residential properties. This computerized sales comparison model considers several different value components including, but not limited to, sales of comparable properties, land, location, building square footage, and construction type. These are some of the very same factors that would be considered by an appraiser seeking to value an individual property.
Residential properties are assessed as of January 1st of the current year, using three to five years of prior sales information. By using multiple sale years, this increases the stability of market value predictions.
How do I confirm that my property characteristics are correct?
Where and how can I file a property appeal?
If you feel your property is improperly assessed, you are encouraged to file an appeal with either the Cook County Assessor’s Office or the Cook County Board of Review.
Both the Cook County Assessor and Cook County Board of Review office websites detail:
- Specific filing dates and deadlines for your area
- Common reasons and detailed instructions for filing an appeal
You can also obtain assistance in filing an appeal by calling the Cook County Assessor’s Office at (312) 603-7550 or the Cook County Board of Review at (312) 603-5542. You can visit the Assessor’s downtown office or any of their five suburban branch offices to obtain assistance in filing an appeal.
Where can I find information about my current appeal or my appeal history?
HOMEOWNER EXEMPTIONS AND INQUIRIES
Where can I find more about and file possible exemptions for my home?
The Cook County Assessor’s Office is responsible for the administration of all homeowner related exemptions. These exemptions translate into lower taxes and may result in significant savings.
Information regarding the descriptions, qualifications and required forms and supporting documentation for all exemptions can be found on the Cook County Assessor’s Office.
What is a Homeowner Exemption and how can I receive it?
You can receive the Homeowner Exemption if you own or have a lease or contract which makes you responsible for the real estate taxes of the residential property. It must also be used as your principal place of residence for the year in question.
This exemption will be prorated if you purchased a newly constructed home that was not ready for occupancy until sometime after January 1 of the tax year in question. For further assistance, call our Taxpayer Services Department at (312) 443-7550. If you have never received a Homeowner Exemption on your home, you will need to apply for one. Exemption forms may be obtained by calling or visiting one of the Assessor’s Office locations or your local township assessor.
What is a Senior Citizen Exemption and how do I qualify?
The Senior Citizen Exemption provides tax relief by reducing the equalized assessed valuation of an eligible residence. This savings is in the form of a deduction on the second-installment real estate tax bill.
- You must be 65 years of age or older during the tax year for which you are applying
- You must either own the property or have a lease or contract which makes you responsible for the real estate taxes
- The property must be your principal residence. If you have moved or plan to move in the future, you may be entitled to a prorated Senior Citizen Exemption, based on the time of occupancy
To apply for a prorated Senior Citizen Exemption you must submit:
- A Senior Citizen Exemption Application Form
- A closing or settlement statement
- Copy of a recent property tax bill
- Copy of proof of age and residency
What is a Senior Freeze Exemption and how do I qualify?
The Senior Freeze Exemption allows qualified senior citizens to apply for a freeze of the equalized assessed value (EAV) of their properties for the year preceding the year in which they first apply and qualify for this exemption. For example, a senior citizen who qualifies and applies for this exemption in taxable year 2011 will have the EAV of the property frozen at the 2010 EAV. Those who qualify and receive this exemption should be aware that this does not automatically freeze the amount of their tax bill. Only the EAV remains at the fixed amount. The amount of dollars that the taxing districts asks for (levy) may change and thus alter a tax bill.
What is the Returning Veterans' Exemption?
Veterans returning from active duty in armed conflict are eligible to receive a reduction in the equalized assessed value of their property for each taxable year in which they return.
What is the Disabled Veterans' Homeowner Exemption?
Veterans with a service connected disability as certified by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs are eligible for this annual exemption. A disability of at least 70 percent is eligible for an exemption in equalized assessed value (EAV). A disability of at least 50 percent, but less than 69 percent, is eligible for a reduction in EAV.
What is the Disabled Persons' Exemption?
This exemption provides disabled persons with an annual reduction in the equalized assessed value (EAV) of the property.
What is the Home Improvement Exemption?
The Home Improvement Exemption allows you to increase the value of your home with up to $75,000 worth of improvements without increasing your property taxes for at least four years. This exemption is automatically applied to the property when a building permit is taken out to complete the home improvement.
For additional information on all exemptions administered by the Cook County Assessor’s Office please visit the Cook County Assessor’s Office website.
Where can verify that I have all of my exemptions?
Where can I file for missing exemptions?
If you discover that an exemption may be missing from your home for a specific tax year, you should apply for a Certificate of Error at the Cook County Assessor’s Office. Forms and instructions can be found on the Cook County Assessor’s Office website or you can obtain assistance correcting missing exemptions by calling the Cook County Assessor’s Office at (312) 603-7550.
CURRENT TAX BILL QUESTIONS AND EXPLANATIONS
Where can I get a copy of my tax bill?
You can obtain a duplicate tax bill from the Cook County Treasurer by requesting a copy online at
Cook County Treasurer’s Office or by visiting the main downtown office.
What are the first and second installment tax bills?
Cook County property taxes are always paid in 2 installments every year. The first property tax bill is called the first installment and the second bill is called the second installment.
The first installment by law is 55% of the previous year’s total property tax bill.
What are the due dates for the first and second installments of the tax bill?
The first installment due date is always March 1st.
The mailing date of the second installment property tax bill can vary since it cannot be mailed until the Board of Review has concluded every appeal for Cook County for that particular tax year and new tax rates have been calculated. Typically, the second installment tax bill will be mailed on July 1st or after.
Where and how can I pay my current property taxes?
Payments can be made in a variety of ways including but not limited to: online, via mail, or at numerous Chase Bank locations. For detailed information on how to make property tax bill payments, visit the Cook County Treasurer’s Office website.
How do I verify my payments and review my current balance?
Where I can search to see if I have a refund?
How can I pay my taxes by a legal description?
If you need to make a property tax payment on a portion of a PIN, you will need to pay your tax bill by the legal description of your portion of the ownership. This is a 2 step process; you must first request an Assessment by Legal Description from the Cook County Assessor’s Office. Once the Assessor’s Office has completed the form, it will be sent to the Cook County Treasurer’s office to produce an accurate property tax bill to be paid by legal description.
For more information regarding the payment by legal procedure, please call the Cook County Assessor’s Office at (312) 603-7550.
I saw that my exemptions were missing on my current tax bill, what do I do?
If you discover that a possible exemption may be missing from your home for a specific tax year, you should apply for a Certificate of Error at the
Cook County Assessor’s Office.
Forms and instructions can be found on their website. You can also obtain assistance correcting missing exemptions by calling the Cook County Assessor’s Office at 312 603-7550 or visiting the downtown office or one of the suburban office locations. Time permitting you may receive an adjusted bill. If time does not permit for an adjusted bill, or if your mortgage company paid your bill, you will receive a refund in approximately 8 to 10 weeks.
I am serving in the military, how can I get a Military Wavier?
If you are currently a serving member of the United States Military Service, you may qualify for this program. More information regarding a Military Wavier can be found at the Cook County Treasurer’s Office website.
What is the Senior Citizen Deferral Program?
This is a State of Illinois program administered by the Cook County Treasurer’s Office which pays up to $5,000 to qualified applicants for the purpose of assisting in the payment of property taxes. There is no tax discounts provided through this program and this payment is an interest bearing loan.
Deadline to submit annual applications for this program is March 1st.
- Applicant must be 65 years or older by June 1st of the application year
- Income level cannot exceed $55,000
- Applicant must have owned the property for 3 years
More information for a Senior Citizen Deferral can be found at the Cook County Treasurer’s Office website.
Where can I find an explanation of the calculation of a tax bill?
To calculate your 1st Installmnet property tax bill, use the following example:
|Total Tax from Prior Year
|Current Year Estimate
|1st Installment Tax Amount
To calculate your 2nd Installmnet property tax bill, use the following example, which is for a home with an estimated market value of $100,000:
|Estimated Market Value
|Assessment Level (10%)
|Proposed Assessed Valuation
|2011 State Equalizer
|Equalized Assessed Value
|Adjusted Equalized Value
|Sample Tax Rate
|Estimated Tax Bill in Dollars
*Explanations of the tax calculation can also be found on the Cook County Treasurer’s Office website and Cook County Assessor’s Office website.
Where can I find the amount of my tax bill to gain an explanation of tax bill increases?
Your property tax bill represents your share of the budgets approved by local taxing bodies for their operations. Property taxes are one of the main sources of funding for local government services, such as park districts, fire districts and especially public education. If you believe your taxes are too high, you should:
- Check with the Cook County Assessor’s Office to be sure you are receiving the property tax exemptions to which you are entitled.
- Check your property’s assessed value and property characteristics and, if incorrect, file an appeal with the Cook County Assessor’s Office.
- Note the spending requests of your local governing bodies detailed on your property tax bill.
Other possible reasons your tax bill may be higher:
Your local tax rate.
Although the value of your home and your assessment may have decreased, your local tax rate may have increased. Your local tax rate is determined by the spending needs of your local governing agencies. Any increase in your tax rate can have a significant impact on the amount of your tax bill.
My Homeowner Exemption savings decreased drastically. Why?
The state legislature voted to decrease and phase out exemption amounts for the 7% Expanded Homeowner Exemption.
Due to the state legislature’s decision, the savings from the 7% provision will continue to decrease until the 7% Expanded Exemption expires.
The 7% Expanded Homeowner Exemption expired for City of Chicago homeowners this year (on the second-installment bill just received) and will expire for north suburban homeowners on next year’s second installment bill, and for south suburban homeowners in 2014. Homeowners will continue to automatically receive the benefits of the standard Homeowner Exemption.
The state legislature voted to phase out the 7% Expanded Homeowner Exemption and unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to appeal or contest the amount of your Homeowner Exemption. You may contact your state legislator to express your concerns however.
My neighbor’s home is identical to mine yet my bill is higher. Why?
When comparing total tax dollars due, it is important to review the exemptions that were applied to a property. Two homes may have similar assessed values but total tax bill amounts may differ due to exemptions applied to the property (your neighbor may be eligible for additional exemptions such as the Senior Exemption, Senior Freeze Exemption, etc.) It is also very important to remember that exemption amounts often differ depending on when a home is purchased.
Another factor to be considered is that your neighbor may have filed an appeal with the Cook County Board of Review and received a decrease in the assessed value of their home from that agency.
Where can I find my Tax Code, and what does it mean?
Your property tax bill will have the Tax Code on the top of the tax bill.
The Tax Code is the composite code that contains all of the individual taxing agencies and their tax rates used to determine the composite rate in calculating the total amount of your tax bill. Taxing agencies and their individual rates are detailed on your property tax bill. Visit the Cook County Clerk’s Office website to learn more about Tax Extension Terms and Tax Rates.
Where can I view my Tax Agency Rate Report?
Go to the Cook County Clerk’s Office website to view tax calculation information of the taxing agencies contained within your Tax Code.
Where can I find out more about TIF’s in my taxing district?
How do I order a Certificate of Tax Payment to verify payment history?
A Certificate of Payment verifies that you have made tax payments for a particular property for a particular tax year, including the dates paid.
Instructions for submission of an Order Form of Proof of Payment can be viewed and downloaded from the Cook County Clerk’s Office website. Proof of payment may also be ordered at the Cook County Clerk's downtown office:
Cook County Clerk's Office
Real Estate & Tax Services Division
Cook County Building
118 N. Clark St., Room 434
Chicago, IL 60602
Hours: 8:30 am to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday
How do I know if my taxes have been sold?
The Cook County Treasurer’s Office will mail you notification if your property taxes have been sold at an annual tax sale. Visit the Cook County Clerk’s Office website to see if your property taxes have been sold or if there are any other delinquent taxes on a property.
How do I order a Certificate of Redemption for Sold Taxes?
If your taxes have been sold, you should immediately obtain an Estimate of the Cost of Redemption. This is a calculation of the amount you need to pay to redeem the sale and remove the threat of loss of the property.
You are advised to redeem the taxes immediately, as penalties and fees can increase and multiply over time. These taxes and any fees and penalties must be paid in full; there are no payment plans for redemption payments.
How do I Pay Prior Year Forfeited or Open taxes?
Property owners may request a calculation of the amount necessary to satisfy forfeited or open taxes.
You can order an Estimate of the Cost of Redemption for Forfeited Taxes or an Open Item Bill in person at the Clerk's downtown office or submit a written request that one be mailed to you.
Cook County Clerk's Office
Real Estate & Tax Services Division
Cook County Building
118 N. Clark St., Room 434
Chicago, IL 60602
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday
To order an Estimate of the Cost of Redemption of Forfeited Taxes or an Open Item Bill:
- Fill out and submit an Order Form for Estimate of the Cost of Redemption; Or
- Send a letter to the Real Estate & Tax Services Division requesting an Estimate of the Cost of Redemption for Forfeited Taxes or an Open Item Bill