I. What Are The Key Elements Of My Tax Bill?
Your real estate tax bill consists of three key elements: (1) the Assessed Valuation which is the “fair cash value” an assessing body places on a piece or property. The assessed valuation is used to determine each taxpayer’s share of the overall tax burden for a township or county in Illinois; (2) the Tax Rate which is the single composite rate derived from the individual tax rates levied each year by the various local taxing bodies–school districts, forest preserve districts, library districts etc. and (3) the State of Illinois Equalization Factor (“Multiplier” factor). This factor is set by the Illinois Department of Revenue on an annual basis. It is used to ensure that property assessed valuations from one area of a particular county to another area of that same county are uniform.
II. Can Reductions In Your Assessed Valuation Result In Tax Savings?
The answer to this question is an emphatic “YES”. A reduction in a property’s assessed valuation automatically results in tax savings. Even if a taxpayer’s township tax rate and Illinois Equalization Factor (“multiplier”) for a specific property should increase in any given tax year, a reduction in that year’s assessed valuation ensures tax savings. That is why a property owner should have their assessment situation reviewed annually. If there exists a reasonable opportunity for successfully appealing and reducing that property owner’s assessment, an appeal should be filed seeking a reduction in that assessment.
III. How Often Is Property Reassessed By Various Counties?
Different counties reassess their tax parcels-at different time periods. For example, Lake, DuPage and McHenry Counties reassess all county properties annually. However, Cook County reassesses properties in specific areas every three (3) years. This is known as the Triennial Reassessment process. For example, in 2018 the entire City of Chicago is being reassessed and in 2019 the North and Northwest suburban areas of Cook County will be reassessed.
IV. Are Real Property Assessments Uniform From One Illinois County To The Next?
In 100 of the 101 counties in Illinois all properties–residential, commercial, industrial and multi-unit (i.e. condos or apartment buildings)–are assessed at 33.33% of fair cash value. However, Cook County assesses property based on a classification system. Residential, multi-unit and vacant land property is assessed at 10% of fair cash (market) value while commercial, industrial and not-for-profit properties are assessed at 25% of fair cash value. By way of example, in Cook County a single family home with a market value of $500,000 has an assessed value of $50,000. Simultaneously, a commercial office building with a market value of $500,000 has an assessed value of $125,000.
V. As An Illinois Taxpayer Am I Entitled To Certain Tax Exemptions?
Illinois property owners are entitled to various real property tax exemptions. For instance, both Lake and Cook Counties offer: (1) a Homestead Exemption for taxpayers who actually reside in their residential property; (2) a Senior Homestead Exemption for individuals 65 years and older who actually live in their home, while making it their principal residence; (3) a Disabled Persons Exemption for homeowners with a disability; and (4) a Returning Veterans Exemption for veterans returning from military service.
Homeowners should contact my office to find out: (1) what exemptions are available to them; and (2) what criteria must be satisfied to qualify for a specific tax exemption.