Property Tax Overview

What role do property taxes play?

Property taxes have played a major role in financing government since Illinois’ early days. In fact, until the depression of the 1930’s, property taxes were the main source of funding for state government. Today, however, only local governments levy and collect property taxes.

Approximately 241 local government units, (e. g., municipalities, townships, schools, park districts) with 554 accounts, use property taxes to finance the majority of services that they provide to the citizens in LaSalle County. The largest share of local property taxes (70 percent) goes to school districts for education. Other public services include police and fire protection, street maintenance, and recreation.

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 assessment and reflects the value of real property as of January 1 of that year. The actual tax bills are paid in the year following the tax year. For example, taxes on a 2005 assessment are paid in 2006.

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. Any change in real property assessments must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in each county every year. 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, unless the change was due to the application of an equalization factor by an assessor. Banks, savings and loans, and other mortgage lenders also are required to forward copies of all assessment change notices to affected borrowers.

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

Once you have verified that the information on your assessment record is accurate, you can use one of two methods to quickly determine whether or not your assessment is fair.

The first method is to compare the fair market value of your property with recent sales of similar properties in your neighborhood. The fair market value of your property is defined as the price you would accept if a willing and able buyer would offer to purchase your property at today’s prices. This method is appropriate if you have either recently purchased your property on the open market or obtained a professional appraisal.

The second method is to compare the assessed value of your property with similar properties in your neighborhood to determine uniformity in assessments. You can get the assessed value of your property from the township or multi-township assessor or in the office of the supervisor of assessments. You have the right to inspect the assessment record for any parcel of property subject to reasonable regulations set by local officials.

What can I do if I think my assessment is unfair?

There are several administrative remedies available to you. You can file a complaint with the county’s board of review. If you are dissatisfied with the board of review’s decision, you may appeal to the State Property Tax Appeal Board or file a tax objection complaint in the circuit court.

A favorable court ruling is unlikely unless you have exhausted all available administrative remedies.

Note: If you think your assessment is unfair, it is important to pursue administrative remedies discussed above in a timely manner. Your “notice of assessment change” form lists the filing deadlines. Once you receive your bill, it is generally too late to challenge your assessment.

What will happen if I don’t pay my property taxes?

A lien is placed on your property if you do not pay your property taxes. The lien may be sold to recover the amount of taxes due. If this action occurs and your property is residential, you may redeem it within two and one-half years of the date of sale. You will have to pay penalties and other costs (including interest) in addition to any taxes due. Other classes of property, such as agricultural and commercial property, have different redemption time periods. If you do not redeem your property, you may lose it.

What property tax relief is available to property owners?

See “Guide to Property Tax Relief.”

How is farmland assessed?

A parcel of land used for agricultural purposes for at lease two consecutive years is eligible for a preferential assessment. Farmland is assessed based on its agricultural economic value (AEV) (i.e., its ability to produce income) rather than on 33 1/3 percent of its fair market value. The AEV is a calculation of an average of prices paid for agricultural products, production costs, and interest rates that are charged by the Federal Land Bank over a five-year period.

Assessing official’s value all farm land in the county based upon its productivity, taking into account the land’s actual use, slope erosion, flooding, and other factors that affect productivity.

Farm buildings are assessed at 33 1/3 percent of their contributory value to the productivity of the farm. Farm home sites and residences are assessed at 33 1/3 percent of their fair market values.

What factors determine the amount of property tax I will pay?

Your tax bill is bases on two factors:

  • The equalized assessed value of your property, and
  • The amount of money your local taxing districts need to operate during the upcoming year (i.e., levies).

The assessment on your property is set by local officials and is merely a method of fairly distributing the tax burden among all property owners in your community (i.e., the tax base). Your tax bill can remain the same or decrease even though your assessment is increased if the tax base increases or the taxing districts do not increase their levies. Conversely, your tax bill can increase even though your assessment remains the same or decreases if the tax base decreases or the taxing districts increase their levies.