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What role does property tax play?

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

Approximately 6,000 local government units (e.g., municipalities, townships, counties, schools, park districts) use property tax to finance the majority of services that they provide to their citizens. The largest share of local property tax (62 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 Illinois property tax cycle 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 2011 assessment are paid in 2012.

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.

Cook County classifies property and assesses classes at different percentages of fair market value. For example, the required assessment level for the residential class is 10 percent of fair market value. The Cook County Assessor’s Office has information about other classes.

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 (three years in Cook County), a complete list of assessments must be published for notification purposes. In addition, taxpayers outside Cook County 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.