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 The Hearing 

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Once all evidence has been gathered in an appeal, the case is ready for hearing. In some cases, the Property Tax Appeal Board determines that a prehearing conference is necessary. Rule 1910.73 establishes the standards for setting a prehearing conference.

Prehearing conferences are normally held at the Board's office in Springfield or Des Plaines, but other locations will be considered as a convenience for the parties.

For all appeals, the Property Tax Appeal Board normally sets hearings in the county seat of the county in which the subject property lies. In Cook County, due to its size and the number of appeals expected, numerous hearing sites in the county will be established. Rule 1910.67(b) provides:

The Property Tax Appeal Board shall review all appeals filed in compliance with these rules to determine whether a hearing shall be held on any factual or legal issue. Whenever the Board determines that a hearing is not required, the appeal shall be decided based upon the evidence in the record. The Board shall hold a hearing at the request of any party in writing. In the event a hearing is deemed necessary, the Board shall give notice to all parties to the appeal of the time, date, and place of the hearing at least 20 days prior to hearing, unless the 20 day period is specifically waived by all the parties to the appeal.
Continuances of hearings may be granted for good cause shown in writing. Section 1910.67(i) of the Official Rules provides:
 
Good cause shall be the inability to attend the hearing at the date and time set by the Board for a cause beyond the control of the party, such as the unavoidable absence of a party, his attorney or material witness, or the serious illness or death of a witness or party. The Board shall set the hearing of a continued case at the time it sets other hearings of appeals from the county in which the subject of the continued appeal lies, unless the parties request that the Board decide the appeal based upon the evidence in the record without a formal hearing.

Property Tax Appeal Board hearings normally are conducted by duly authorized administrative law judges. These administrative law judges are empowered to administer oaths and to examine, under oath, all persons appearing at the hearing to testify or to offer evidence. The length of hearings is at the discretion of the Board. However, the Board usually permits hearings to proceed for any amount of time necessary to hear all evidence, testimony, and examination fully from all parties. The contesting party or appellant is required to provide a court reporter for purposes of transcribing the proceeding whenever there is $100,000 or more of assessed valuation at issue. 35 ILCS 200/16-190. The transcript prepared by the court reporter must be submitted as soon as possible but in no case later than within 60 days of the hearing date. See Rule 1910.98(b).

At the hearing, the appellant normally proceeds first, followed by the board of review, and the Intervenor(s), if any. Cross-examination follows a similar order. No party need be represented by counsel at a Property Tax Appeal Board proceeding. However, only parties and counsel are permitted to participate in the examination of witnesses. "Accountants, tax representatives, tax advisers, real estate appraisers, real estate consultants and others not qualified to practice law" are not permitted to question witnesses. Such persons are permitted to testify and to assist parties and counsel in the 1910.70(a).

The major purpose of the Property Tax Appeal Board hearing is the presentation of documentary and oral evidence and the cross-examination of witnesses. However, testimony and documentary evidence must be limited to what has been submitted pursuant to the Rules. The Rules provide that no documentary evidence will be accepted into the appeal record at the hearing unless that evidence has been submitted to the Property Tax Appeal Board before the hearing pursuant to rule. No appraisal testimony offered to prove the valuation asserted by a party will be permitted unless a documented appraisal signed by the witness who prepared it has been submitted pursuant to rule. See Rule 1910.67(l).

Stipulations agreed to by all parties are permitted in any Board appeal. However, the stipulation must be supported by evidence in the record and need not be accepted by the Board. See Rule 1910.55(b).

Hearings may be held before less than a majority of the members of the Board, and the chair may assign members or administrative law judges to hold hearings. The Board has enumerated its powers with respect to any proceeding in Rule 1910.67(h)(1):
 
In connection with any proceeding, the Board, or any of its designated hearing officers, shall have full authority over the conduct of a hearing and the responsibility for submission of the matter to the Board for decision. The Board or its designated hearing officer shall have those duties and powers necessary to these ends, including:
 
  1. To conduct hearings and pre-hearing conferences;
  2. To admit or exclude testimony or other evidence into the record pursuant to this Part;
  3. To administer oaths and affirmations and examine all persons appearing at the hearing to testify or to offer evidence;
  4. To require the production of any book, record, paper or document at any stage of the appeal or of the hearing which is the foundation for any evidence or testimony presented in the appeal;
  5. To require the submission of briefs on issues of law raised during the hearing within 60 days after the termination of the hearing;
  6. To call upon any person at any stage of the hearing to produce witnesses or information that is material and relevant to any issue; and
  7. To ensure that the hearing is conducted in a full, fair and impartial manner, that order is maintained, and that unnecessary delay is avoided in the disposition of the hearing.

Administrative law judges are empowered to exercise the full authority of the Board with respect to the conduct and control of any proceeding.

Appeals before the Board are de novo, meaning they are considered as if the board of review never heard or decided your assessment appeal.

The burden of proof in Board proceedings is generally a mere preponderance of the evidence. However, courts have ruled that when equity of assessments is at issue, the appealing party must establish the lack of uniformity by clear and convincing evidence. The Board has listed these separate burdens of proof in Rule 1910.63(e):
 
When market value is the basis of the appeal, the value of the subject property must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence. When unequal treatment in the assessment process is the basis of the appeal, the inequity of the assessments must be proved by clear and convincing evidence.


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