Second installment property tax bills have been paid, but many people still have lingering questions. It's a complicated process, but we are here to help!
One of the most common questions revolves around the structure of the County's property tax system. To begin, communities set their budget. Everyone from libraries to water reclamation districts to mosquito abatement districts to schools have budgets that are funded by taxes. A community's budget needs are combined with the taxable value of your entire community, as prescribed by the Assessor's office via your assessed value. The taxable value of your home, combined with your community's budget needs, create the local tax rate. The local tax rate is then applied to your property's taxable value and that is the number that you see on your property tax bill.
There are several offices that have a hand in the property tax process. Beyond the Cook
County Assessor determining fair market value and assessed value based on the data they have, and the Clerk setting the tax rate based on a community's needs, there are two other big players in the game.
First, the Illinois Department of Revenue sets the state equalizer. This is a multiplier that is calculated every year and its main goal is toe make property tax rates as equal as possible across all counties in Illinois.
Next is the the Cook County Treasurer's office. They are responsible for sending bills and collecting payment from residents of Cook County. Taxes are paid a year in arrears, meaning you are always paying taxes for the year directly prior to the one you are in. Because bills are mailed by the Cook County Treasurer's office, it is often the assumption that increases are due to the County raising taxes. This is not, in fact, the case. At the top of each of your property tax bills, there is an itemized list of taxing bodies you are paying for and what portion of your bill goes to each entity. Cook County as a whole has not raised its portion of the tax levy in over 20 years.
Whew! That was a lot to digest. But hopefully the property tax system as a whole is starting to make a little bit more sense.
Have more questions? The Assessor has a few articles to help you as you sort through the process.