If you own real estate in Lake County, Illinois, you should have recently received your 2019 (payable in 2020) real estate tax bill. After picking your jaw up of the floor and otherwise recovering from the shock caused by such an unfortunate event, you’re probably wondering, now what? Though there isn’t anything that can be done to challenge the bill you just received, there are things that can be done so that next year’s real estate tax experience is less painful.
First Things First
The unfortunate reality (something you’d think we are becoming more accustomed to these days) is that the tax bill you just received in the mail cannot be challenged. All you can do now is grit your teeth and pay the bill.
But There Is Good News
The good news is, an ordinance recently passed by the Lake County Board does give taxpayers more time to pay the bill that they just received. Ordinarily, the first installment of taxes would have been due on June 8, 2020 and the second on September 8, 2020. This year, in response to the economic hardship being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, an ordinance has been passed allowing deferred payment of real estate taxes. Under the new payment schedule, taxes may be paid in four (4) installments that are due on
- June 8
- August 7
- September 8
- November 9
While the deferred payment schedule offers some short term relief, the total amount of taxes that must be paid remains the same.
How Do They Calculate Your Taxes?
Before we go further, let’s pause to go over how real estate taxes are calculated. In Illinois, the amount owed for real estate taxes is based, for the most part, upon the assessed value of the property and the applicable tax rate. Legal challenges to the applicable tax rate are somewhat impractical and not all that successful. Therefore, to challenge and reduce your real estate tax bill we must turn to the assessed value of the property.
What Does Assessed Value Mean?
What is meant by the “assessed value” of the property? Assessed value is 1/3 of the “fair cash value”. Fair cash value is defined by law as “the amount for which a property can be sold in the due course of business and trade, not under duress, between a willing buyer and a willing seller.” Think of fair cash value as being the same as what is typically referred to as market value.
That takes us to the heart of the issue, how can you reduce your real estate taxes. Remember, you can’t contest the tax bill you just received. You can, however, begin preparing to contest next year’s taxes. Part of how you can prepare is by understanding the process.
Let’s Talk Tax Bill Process
Each year, from late summer to the late fall, assessments are mailed to taxpayers in Lake County. The assessment is printed on blue paper and is often referred to as the “blue sheet”. Receipt of the blue sheet is crucial because Illinois law provides that challenges to the assessment must be filed within 30 days of the assessment being mailed to the taxpayer. This is why, when tax bills are received (which is when most people tend to be the most passionate about the amount they pay for taxes), it is not the time to act. Several months later, after the sting of receiving the tax bill has worn off, a strange, innocuous looking blue piece of paper is received in the mail. Countless times, the blue sheet is missed in the mail or disregarded, and thus, the opportunity to challenge the assessment of the property is missed.
How Can You Contest Your Taxes?
This year, we urge you to prepare well in advance to contest the assessment of your real estate. While the sting and the reality of your Lake County real estate tax bill is still fresh in mind, contact us to have us review your real estate tax situation. This means you should make an appointment NOW.
What If You Don’t Win My Appeal?
If your property is correctly assessed, there’s no fee for our services. If we appeal your assessment, and we obtain a lower assessed value for your property, only then will you have a fee. Our fees are 100% contingent upon successfully lowering the assessment and tax on your property.
You Need To Prepare NOW
Because you will have such a short window to contest your assessed value, it is best to have your case reviewed right now. Then, when you receive your dreaded blue sheets, you will already have someone in your corner, fighting for you. We are open for business right now. We can talk with you and review your value via phone and by sending documents electronically. Let’s see if we can save you money! Contact us today at (847) 223-1500 to appeal your 2020 real estate taxes.