Property Taxes in Illinois: Know Your Rights

 

The Basics You Should Know
 

What role do property taxes play?

Approximately 6,900 local governments in Illinois (e.g. municipalities, townships, counties, schools, park districts) use property taxes to finance the majority of services that they provide to their citizens. The largest share of property taxes (62 percent) goes to school districts for elementary and secondary education.

This information is intended for property owners in all Illinois counties except Cook County. (Click here if you own property in Cook County.)

What is Illinois’ property tax cycle?

The property tax cycle in Illinois generally extends over a two-year period. A tax year is the year of the assessment and reflects the value of real property as of January 1st of that year. The actual tax bills are paid in arrears, i.e., one year after they are assessed. For example, taxes on a 2007 assessment are paid in 2008. Generally, property taxes are paid in two installments each year.

If you have established an escrow for the payment of property taxes with your lender, send a copy to the lender and keep a copy for yourself. You should check with the lender twice each year to verify that your lender is paying your tax bill out of the escrow.

How is real property assessed in Illinois?

The required assessment level for tax purposes on any parcel of real property in any County except Cook County is 33 1/3 percent of the property’s Fair Market Value, excluding farmland and farm buildings.

Will I be notified if my assessment is going to change?

Yes. Every four years when all property is reassessed, a complete list of assessments must be published for notification purposes. In addition, taxpayers must receive a mailed notice of any changes in their assessment from the previous year.

Reasons property assessments may increase:

  • The property values in the area are increasing.
  • Improvements were made to the property (e.g., an addition to your home; extensive remodeling; a new deck or patio).
  • The property was under-assessed in relation to other properties and this error has been corrected.
  • The property has a homestead exemption that has been removed.
     

Challenging the Assessment on Your Property

(Click here if you own property in Cook County.)

How can I tell if the assessor has placed a fair value on my property?

There are few things that can be done to quickly determine whether or not your assessment is fair. Make sure that the obvious information about your property is accurate (e.g. size of home, correct square footage). Then compare the assessed value of your property with similar properties in your neighborhood to determine uniformity in assessments. Contact a local REALTOR for assistance in reviewing the fair market values and assessed values of other properties and for preparing a “comparable.” Data on comparable properties can be obtained at the assessor’s office. This type of evidence will be necessary should you choose to file an appeal and show that your property is over-assessed.

How do I file an Assessment Appeal?

You can obtain the appropriate appeal forms from the County Supervisor of Assessment or Chief County Assessment Officer. Upon completion, the forms are sent to the County Board of Review. Generally, state law and local policy provide that an appeal must be filed within 30 days of the Notice of Assessment Change. Make sure that substantial evidence (such as the “comparables”) accompanies your submission of the forms.

For more information on appeals, visit the Illinois Department of Revenue’s Web site. 

 

Property Tax Relief

State law states that a portion of the value of owner-occupied property is exempt from taxation. There are various exemptions that you should be aware of and may qualify for.

(Click here if you own property in Cook County.)

General Homestead Exemption

  • Up to $5,000 reduction in assessed valuation available. This amount rises to $5,500 in tax year 2008 and to $6,000 in tax year 2009 and thereafter.
  • Must live in the property on or before January 1st of the tax year.
  • The property must be owner occupied or a qualifying lease in which the lessee is responsible for the taxes.
  • The property must be principal residence.
  • If the property is sold, the new qualifying owner must apply after January 1st for the next tax year.

Senior Homestead Exemption

  • Up to $3,500 reduction in assessed valuation. This amount rises to $4,000 in tax year 2008 and thereafter.
  • Must be 65 years of age or older during the tax year.
  • The property must be principal residence.
  • Exemption prorated to the date the owner is eligible.

Senior Assessment Freeze

  • Freezes the assessed valuation at the level of the qualifying year.
  • Must be 65 years of age or older during the tax year.
  • Must have a total household income of $45,000 per year or less. That income limitation rises to $55,000 in the 2008 tax year.
  • Must apply and qualify every year to retain freeze.

Other Exemptions and Assistance Programs Available:

Contact the County Supervisor of Assessments or Township Assessor for information and assistance about additional programs, including the Home Improvement Exemption and exemptions for disabled homeowners and returning veterans.

This information is intended for property owners in all Illinois counties except Cook County. (Click here if you own property in Cook County.)

 

 

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