Coles Co. (ECWd) -
We shared our concerns over the recent Coles County property tax appeal ruling from the Federal Court in this article.
Specifically, we found serious fault with the court's analysis and suggestion that the taxpayers have a state remedy in their unequal protection case against the county. It became clear during the hearing and now with their ruling that they do not understand what is actually taking place in Coles County, thus a completely inaccurate ruling in our opinion.
To keep it simple, when two groups of people utilize the same taxpayer-funded services (school), the property tax assessment must be applied to both groups equally. When only one group is assessed and has their taxes raised, they are paying more than the other group who reaps the benefit of those same services at a lower cost to them. That is not only wrong, but it is also illegal and the County knows it's illegal as they said so in their letter to their State Representatives, which we covered in this article.
A bullet point from the Appellate courts ruling drives the message home, we are in trouble when the courts get this so wrong.
- Although the PTAB is not expressly authorized to consider claims beyond objections to the assessment values, we have found no provision in its authorizing statute or regulations precluding it from doing so.”
"We have found no provision in its authorizing statute or regulations precluding it from doing so?"
The reason the courts could not find any precluding provision is that there is no such language in our laws because Illinois is Dillons Rule State. Dillon's rule basically means you have ONLY the powers given so when there is no power given then you can't do it. This is the most basic application of Illinois law yet the Federal Courts got it wrong.
The Federal Courts have ignored Illinois’s recognition of Dillons Rule.
Instead, the court took the position that since they have found no provision in the statute precluding the PTAB from considering claims beyond assessment values they point to States Courts as the place for this case. The fact they are focused on assessment "values" tells us they still don't get it.
This is not an assessment value case before them!
This is a very flawed legal analysis for this simple fact the Board of Review is bound by Illinois law, which follows Dillon's Rule and without statutory power to act, they can’t. Any such case taken through the process the courts point to will be met with a simple dismissal as the PTAB was never given the power to address the merits of a case like this one.
Please do not take our word for this.
Read the letter from the State of Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board that states what their powers are limited to and even support their position with Illinois Appellate Court citations, which is the law of the land. Specifically:
"Please note that the only power and authority placed in the Property Tax Appeal Board by statute is to receive appeals from decisions of the Board of Review (35 ILCS 200/16-160), make rules of procedure (35 ILCS 200/16-180), conduct hearings (35 ILCS 200/16-170), and make a decision on the appeal (35 ILCS 200/16-185). The only types of appeal provided for in the statute are by "any taxpayer dissatisfied with the decision of a board of review as such decision pertains to an assessment of his property for taxation purposes or any taxing body that has an interest in the decision of the board of review on an assessment made by any local assessment officer." (See People ex rel. Thompson v. Property Tax Appeal Board, 22 Ill.App.3d 316, 322 (2"'^ Dist. 1974); and Geneva Comm. Unit School Dist. No. 304 v. Property Tax Appeal Board, 296 Ill.App.3d 630,634 (2"*^ Dist. 1998))."
The coles county case is an Unequal Protection 14th amendment case, not a personal property tax assessment case. There is NO provision anywhere in state law that provides a state level remedy to this situation, even though the Federal Courts claim otherwise.
What both the District and Appellate courts have not done is to provide a single statutory citation to support their claim there is a remedy at the state level. Rather they say it belongs in the state court because we could not find any provision that 'precludes' them from addressing this issue.
When our courts fail to understand our property tax system and its legal application it becomes evident we are in real trouble as the taxpayers have no recourse.
We urge the Plaintiffs, in this case, to take this to the US Supreme Court as it is becoming very clear, Illinois is screwed if this is allowed to stand. Screwed because a failure to fix this ruling will open Pandora's box statewide where other counties will be allowed to get away with unequal protection through their assessment practices and the people have no judicial recourse. No recourse from the state because they have made it clear they have no such authority and none from the Federal courts as they have failed to apply our laws properly.
You can download the letter from the PTAB that proves they have no authority to do as the Federal Courts have implied at this link or view below.