PTAB Rejects Taxpayer Efforts to Keep Taxing Districts Out of Property Tax Appeals

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PTAB Rejects Taxpayer Efforts to Keep Taxing Districts Out of Property Tax Appeals

Jun 11, 2024

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The Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) recently rejected a taxpayer’s efforts to dismiss taxing districts from a property tax appeal on the grounds of standing, reaffirming once again the right of taxing district participation in the assessment appeal process. In a case concerning a property in Vernon Hills owned by Passco, a real estate investment trust, the taxpayer moved to dismiss the intervening school district on the grounds that the school district lacked standing to participate in the appeal due to the Refund Recapture Act found at Section 18-233 of the Property Tax Code, 35 ILCS 200/18-233 (2024). 

Under the recapture provision of Section 18-233, certain taxing districts may recover refunds lost in property tax assessment disputes. Section 18-233 increases the property tax extension for taxing districts in an amount equal to the total tax dollars lost to PTAB reductions, circuit court orders in assessment cases, and certificates of error resulting from assessment mistakes. The aggregate refunds, after the county treasurer’s certification, are added to the taxing district’s annual tax extension. The lost refund dollars are billed back to all taxpayers in the district and recovered by the county treasurer as part of the tax collection process and then included within the treasurer’s taxing district distributions. 

The school district responded to the taxpayer’s standing argument by asserting that the Property Tax Code recognizes the importance of taxing district participation in the assessment appeal process and provides taxing districts with the right to intervene. Under the Property Tax Code, each county’s board of review must give every taxing district notice when a taxpayer files a PTAB appeal seeking a reduction of $100,000 or more. Upon receipt of such notice, that taxing district may intervene in the proceedings in order to present evidence of value of the property at issue and to rebut the taxpayer’s valuation evidence. Once a taxing district has intervened, that taxing district is given the same right to participate as the taxpayer and the county tax officials. Taxing district intervention is an important part of the assessment appeal process because county tax and assessment officials often lack adequate expertise and resources to properly defend an assessment appeal where the taxpayer is seeking a large valuation reduction.

In rejecting the taxpayer’s arguments and finding in favor of the school district, the PTAB left little room for doubt as to whether schools and other taxing districts still have the right to participate in order to defend its incoming revenue and its tax base. Recognizing that the taxpayer’s argument was contrary to the plain language of the Property Tax Code, the PTAB’s Rules and prior rulings of the Supreme Court, the PTAB found that the school district had a recognized revenue interest in the PTAB appeal and therefore had standing to intervene despite the potential for some districts to recover lost funds at a later date. 

In making this ruling, the PTAB once again affirms the right of taxing districts to participate in property tax appeals. If your district has questions about this decision of participation in matters related to property taxation, please contact your Robbins Schwartz attorney for further assistance.