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Understanding Your Property Tax Bill

By now, you have probably received your property tax bill and I’m sure you are wondering why is it so much and where does that money go? The amount of your tax bill is based on the assessed value of your property. In Illinois, the assessed value is 33 1/3% of the property’s fair market value and the fair market value is determined by the County Assessor. Typically, property is re-assessed every four years and can result in a new fair market value. When you receive your assessment notice make sure the information on there is accurate. Check that the square footage, number of bedrooms & baths, etc. is accurate. If this information is incorrect it can affect the value of the property. If you think there is an error in the assessment you should contact the County Assessor’s office.

Once the assessed value of your property has been determined, the County Clerk adds up the tax rates of all the taxing bodies in your area. Different areas will have different taxing bodies reflected on their tax bills. For example, in Freeport our tax bills include the City of Freeport, the Library, Highland College, the Park District, the School District, Mosquito Abatement, Freeport Township and the County. Your tax dollars are divided among all these taxing bodies to pay for the services we receive as well as the employees that provide these services. The Freeport School District receives the largest percentage of the property taxes with a little more than half of the total amount going to the schools. The County is next followed by the City of Freeport, the Park District, Highland College, the Library, Freeport Township and finally Mosquito Abatement.

Also, check your tax bill to make sure you are receiving any exemptions that you qualify for. If you live in your home and it is your primary residence you should be receiving a homestead exemption. This can reduce your assessed value up to $6000 which will reduce the amount of property tax you owe. If you are a Senior citizen you may also qualify for an exemption or a “freeze” which will keep your tax amount from increasing once you qualify for the freeze. There are other exemptions available such as Disabled Veteran so you should check with the County Assessor to see if you qualify.

Property taxes are paid in 2 installments, this year June 22 and September 14. They are also paid in “arears” which means the bills that we are receiving now are actually for last year, or 2017. If your taxes are being escrowed through your mortgage payment then your lender will pay the taxes with the funds from your escrow account. If you receive a tax bill and you are escrowing your taxes, check with your lender to see if they want you to send them the tax bill. If your taxes aren’t paid by the due date you will have to pay a late fee. If they aren’t paid this

year by November 9 the taxes will be sold at the tax sale on November 13. If your taxes aren’t paid for 3 years in a row, your property can be sold for the overdue taxes and you could be evicted from the property.

Now that you have a better understanding of where your tax dollars actually go don’t forget to get them paid on time so you don’t have to pay any more in late fees!

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