Illinois has some of the highest property tax rates in the nation. In order to limit your tax liability, you may be able to appeal your property assessment or apply for certain tax breaks.
Read on for more information from McHenry, Illinois real estate attorney Adam Diamond.
Challenging Your Property Assessment
Property taxes are based on the market value of your property, which is determined on the basis of similar properties in the area or the land value plus the cost of rebuilding the structure.
Once your county assessor assesses your property, they will send you a notice detailing the newly assessed value of your property. You have 30 days after the assessment is published to file an appeal of the assessment. If you fail to file an appeal by the stated deadline, you will almost certainly lose any legal recourse to challenge the property assessment.
You may base your appeal on one of the two suppositions:
- The assessed value is higher than the actual market value—you may be able to support this if you recently bought a similar property in the area or had a professional appraisal.
- The assessed value is higher than the local market—if the assessment is based on flawed information like property dimensions or materials, or if nearby properties are significantly lower in value, then an appeal may be valid.
You may make an informal appeal by speaking to a county assessment officer or the township assessor but to actually dispute your assessment a formal complaint must be made in writing before the deadline. Only a formal appeal will serve as a basis for an additional appeal to the State Property Tax Appeal Board or the circuit court.
Filing for a Homestead Exemption
Another way to lower your property taxes is to apply for a homestead exemption, which would result in a reduction in your property’s assessed value and, in turn, in the amount of property tax. The following are homestead exemptions in Illinois:
- Homeowner exemption—if you live in the property, which may be a single family home, condominium, or co-op, as your primary residence, you may qualify for this exemption for $6,000 off of the assessed value ($18,000 off the fair market value). If approved, the homeowner exemption should remain in effect every year you own the property.
- Senior citizen homestead exemption—if you are aged 65 or older and live on the property as your primary residence, you may qualify for a $5,000 reduction in the assessed value ($15,000 off the fair market value). In most counties, once you receive this exemption, you will not need to re-apply for this exemption every year.
- Senior citizen freeze exemption—This exemption basically “freezes” the assessed value of the property as of the date it is approved. It usually requires that the owner or occupant: be a senior citizen with an annual household income of $65,000 or less, have owned and occupied the home during the applicable tax year (the year before the bill is published), and is responsible for the real estate taxes for the applicable tax year. This exemption freezes the assessed value but not the entire tax bill. If the tax rates change the tax bill can still increase.
- Homestead Exemption for Persons with Disabilities—if you have a disability and live in the owned property as a primary residence, you may qualify for this exemption that would lower the assessed value. Many Counties require you to apply for this exemption every year.
- Homestead Improvement Exemption—this exemption allows you to reduce the assessed value by the amount spent on improving or rebuilding a homestead property multiplied by 33 1/3 percent. You may apply this exemption annually for four years following completion of the work.
NOTE: All assessment values and amounts in this blog are correct as of the date of publication of this blog. These values and amounts can change. If you need to know the exact amount of any exemption or number stated in this blog, it is always best to contact your local County Assessor’s Office.
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