Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My assessment decreased but my tax bill increased, why?

A: Assessed values are decreasing and will continue to do so as long as the real estate market continues it’s downward trend. However, the other component to your tax bill is the funds needed by your local taxing bodies.

The assessed value determines your portion of the overall tax burden. The tax burden is the individual taxing bodies request for money, there is a list on your tax bill of all the taxing bodies that provide services to your particular area. When these taxing districts levy for more than the prior year the overall increase is reflected in your tax bill.

Your tax bill will decrease when the taxing bodies request the same amount or less than they did in the prior years.

Due to legislative action, in 1991 the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) became law. The Tax Cap, as it is known, states property tax extensions (levies) are limited to a 5% increase or the increase in the national Consumer Price Index (CPI) which ever is the least amount. The limitation can be increased for a taxing body but only with voter approval.

Q: Can you explain what one-third means?

A: The explanation begins with the Illinois Statutes, the Property Tax Code.

(Sec. 9 145) Statutory level of assessment. …Property shall be valued as follows: Each tract or lot of property shall be valued at 33 1/3% of its fair cash value.

(Sec. 1 55) 33 1/3%. One third of the fair cash value of property, as determined by the Department of Revenue’s sales ratio studies for the three most recent years preceding the assessment year, adjusted to take into account any changes in assessment levels implemented since the data for the studies were collected.

The Illinois Department of Revenue and State Statute sets forth laws and guidelines that an Assessor must follow to assess property. Most important is to assess at a third of market value. However, as you can see from the statute above, 33 1/3% is based on the prior three years of sales and assessment data.

Remember, the market value listed on your tax bill or calculated from your General Reassessment Notice is based on three prior year’s sales and assessment data. It is not today’s estimate of market value.

The Sales Ratio Study is the analysis of the mathematical relationship between a sale and the prior year’s assessment – a ratio. The ratio is the assessment divided by the sale price. The prior three years of all sale ratios in an area or jurisdiction determine if assessments need to be increased or decreased.

Up to and including 2011, the Sales Ratio Study has only used “arms length” sales, which is 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. However, new legislation was passed to include ‘in lieu of foreclosure’ sales, short sales and other compulsory sales in the Study beginning in 2012. The impact of that change indicates assessments will drop again in 2012, possibly as much as 6% – 8%.

Q: What other state statutes are important?

A: Other Statutes in the Illinois Property Tax Code

(35 ILCS 200/1 50)
Sec. 1 50. Fair cash value. 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.

(35 ILCS 200/1 23)
Sec. 1 23. Compulsory sale. “Compulsory sale” means (i) the sale of real estate for less than the amount owed to the mortgage lender or mortgagor, if the lender or mortgagor has agreed to the sale, commonly referred to as a “short sale” and (ii) the first sale of real estate owned by a financial institution as a result of a judgment of foreclosure, transfer pursuant to a deed in lieu of foreclosure, or consent judgment, occurring after the foreclosure proceeding is complete.

(35 ILCS 200/9 180)
Sec. 9 180. Pro rata valuations; improvements or removal of improvements. The owner of property on January 1 also shall be liable, on a proportionate basis, for the increased taxes occasioned by the construction of new or added buildings, structures or other improvements on the property from the date when the occupancy permit was issued or from the date the new or added improvement was inhabitable and fit for occupancy or for intended customary use to December 31 of that year…
When, during the previous calendar year, any buildings, structures or other improvements on the property were destroyed and rendered uninhabitable or otherwise unfit for occupancy or for customary use by accidental means (excluding destruction resulting from the willful misconduct of the owner of such property), the owner of the property on January 1 shall be entitled, on a proportionate basis, to a diminution of assessed valuation for such period during which the improvements were uninhabitable or unfit for occupancy or for customary use….

(35 ILCS 200/9 205)
Sec. 9 205. Equalization. When deemed necessary to equalize assessments between or within townships or between classes of property, or when deemed necessary to raise or lower assessments within a county or any part thereof to the level prescribed by law, changes in individual assessments may be made by a township assessor or chief county assessment officer, by application of a percentage increase or decrease to each assessment.

(35 ILCS 200/9 210)
Sec. 9 210. Equalization by chief county assessment officer; counties of less than 3,000,000. The chief county assessment officer in a county with less than 3,000,000 inhabitants shall act as an equalizing authority for each county in which he or she serves. The officer shall examine the assessments in the county and shall equalize the assessments by increasing or reducing the entire assessment of property in the county or any area therein or of any class of property, so that the assessments will be at 33 1/3% of fair cash value. … For each township or assessment district in the county, the supervisor of assessments shall annually determine the percentage relationship between the estimated 33 1/3% of the fair cash value of the property and the assessed valuations at which the property is listed for each township, multi township or assessment district. …With the ratio determined for each township or assessment district, the supervisor of assessments shall then determine the percentage to be added to or deducted from the aggregate assessments in each township or assessment district, in order to produce a ratio of assessed value to fair cash value of 33 1/3%. That percentage shall be issued as an equalization factor for each township or assessment district within each county served by the chief county assessment officer. The assessment officer shall then change the assessment of each parcel of property by application of the equalization factor.

(35 ILCS 200/12 10)
Sec. 12 10. Publication of assessments; counties of less than 3,000,000. In counties with less than 3,000,000 inhabitants, as soon as the chief county assessment officer has completed the assessment in the county or in the assessment district, he or she shall, in each year of a general assessment, publish for the county or assessment district a complete list of the assessment, by townships if so organized. In years other than years of a general assessment, the chief county assessment officer shall publish a list of property for which assessments have been added or changed since the preceding assessment, together with the amounts of the assessments, except that publication of individual assessment changes shall not be required if the changes result from equalization by the supervisor of assessments under Section 9 210, or Section 10 200, in which case the list shall include a general statement indicating that assessments have been changed because of the application of an equalization factor and shall set forth the percentage of increase or decrease represented by the factor. The publication shall be made on or before December 31 of that year, and shall be printed in some public newspaper or newspapers published in the county. In every township or assessment district in which there is published one or more newspapers of general circulation, the list of that township shall be published in one of the newspapers.

Q: I just received a Notice of General Reassessment, what does that mean?

Once every four years, by law, the Assessor must review and reassess all property in the jurisdiction. In the middle three years, normally a multiplier is applied to all parcels
within a Township. It’s in the fourth year, the General Reassessment year, that adjustments are made to reflect the market activity in smaller specific areas and neighborhoods within a Township.

Also, in a General Reassessment year notices are mailed to each property owner and all assessments are published in local newspapers. The newspaper your parcel is listed in is printed on your assessment notice.

Portions of the entire publication are printed in The Doings, Clarendon Hills Doings & Weekly Doings, the Downers Grove Reporter and the Suburban Life Newspapers. All of these procedures are in accordance with Illinois State Statute.

Q: The assessed value on the Notice of General Reassessment increased 20%. Will my tax bill increase 20%?

This does NOT mean your taxes will increase by the same percentage. The amount of the overall tax collection is determined by the taxing bodies…schools, government, parks, fire districts, etc. Your portion of that tax collection is dictated by the assessed value of your property.

Due to the Tax Cap, property owners rarely experience double digit TAX increases in a reassessment year. Since 1991, when this law was passed, taxing bodies have been prevented from increasing their tax collections (levies) by more than 5% (or the Consumer Price Index rate if it is less than 5%). However, if the voters passed a tax referendum, say for a new school or public building or program then your tax increase may be more.

Unfortunately, we cannot tell you what your tax bill amount will be at this time because the taxing body’s request for money must be sent to the County Clerk and the processing of that information does not take place until next spring.

Q: How does the Assessor know when an improvement is made?

The Assessor’s Office is sent copies of building permits from DuPage County and the villages within the Township boundaries. Once the permit is received a Deputy Assessor Fieldman inspects each site, measures the structure, and lists it’s amenities for assessment purposes.

Q: What type of home improvement will change my assessment?

The Home Improvement Exemption is an exemption which is automatically granted when you have made an improvement to your property, such as, a room addition, new garage or fireplace, finishing a basement, adding central air or have built a new deck or porch. The assessment increase attributable only to the new improvement is exempt for four years, with a maximum of 25,000 in assessed value. If the assessment increase exceeds 25,000 the balance of the assessment is subject to taxation.

For example, if you have built a deck and it is assessed for 4,500, for the next four years the property assessed value will be reduced by 4,500. However, if you have built a room addition and it’s assessment is 37,000, for the next four years the property assessment will be reduced by only 25,000, the maximum exemption.

Once the new construction is complete a notice of assessment change will be sent. It will reflect the total assessment, including the full assessed value of the new improvement. Prior to calculating the tax bill, however, the exemption amount is removed, along with any other exemptions that apply.

Q: What type of home improvement will not change my assessment?

New siding, roofing, replacement of a furnace or plumbing fixtures, and landscaping, for example, are considered normal maintenance and do not change the overall assessment. These types of repairs or replacements are not eligible for the Home Improvement Exemption.

Q: I live in Downers Grove, why do I have to contact Lisle or York Township for assessment information?
Please check the Township boundaries on the map. Properties west of Woodward Avenue are assessed by Lisle Township, (630) 968-1183. Properties north of 39th Street are assessed by York Township, (630) 627-3354.

Q: I have questions about my tax bill payment or late charges, who should I call?
Tax bill payment questions should be directed to the DuPage County Treasurer’s office at (630) 407-5900. The Assessors Office cannot accept tax bill payment. They can be paid at the DuPage County Treasurers office at 421 North County Farm Road, Wheaton, IL 60187. Also, there are several local banks that accept payment. Call the County Treasurer for more information.

Q: I have questions about the taxing bodies listed on my tax bill, who should I call?
You may call the DuPage County Clerk’s office at (630) 407-5500. Depending on your questions they may suggest you contact the taxing body directly.

Q: I would like my tax bill sent to another address, who do I contact?
The DuPage County Clerk’s office makes all tax bill mailing name and address changes. They can be reached at (630) 407-5500.

Q: I pay taxes for “special service area” , where do I get information on this?
Special service areas, to pay for sewers, water, etc. in a specific area, are handled by the DuPage County Clerk at (630) 407-5500.

Q: I recently received an assessment notice. How can I tell what my market value is?
Divide the assessed value by .33333 to arrive at the market value. A short cut is to simply multiply the assessment by three. For example, if your assessed value is 65,000 / .33333 = $195,020 market value OR 65,000 x 3 = $195,000.

Q: I think my assessment is too high and my taxes are too high, what can I do?
Since your assessment is based on market value you must have an opinion of your property’s value. If not, watch for sales of similar properties in the area and compare them to your property. This will help you determine it’s value. You may also have an independent appraiser value your property.

If you do not agree with the Assessor’s estimate of your market value and corresponding assessment discuss it with the Assessor. You may also file a complaint with the Board of Review. A hearing will be scheduled to hear your complaint and review evidence submitted by you and the Assessor. The Board of Review may increase, decrease or make no change to your assessment. The Board of Review will send you their decision by mail after all hearings in DuPage County are complete, normally February or March. The Board of Review hearings take place at the DuPage County Complex, 421 North County Farm Road, Wheaton, IL.

If you are not in agreement with the Board of Review decision you have the opportunity for an assessment review by the State Property Tax Appeal Board. These hearings also take place at the DuPage County Complex.

Once your property is fairly assessed the next step is to monitor the taxing bodies listed on your tax bill. The taxing bodies determine the AMOUNT of money needed for services provided, the assessment determines the PORTION of that amount you are to pay. Also, be sure to vote on issues that could impact your property taxes.

Q: What is a Sales Ratio Study and how does it affect my assessment?
Learn more about Sales Ratio Studies.

Q; How can homes assessed the same have different tax bills and how is a tax bill calculated?
Even though properties may be assessed the same, exemptions and the tax rate specific to that property can cause a difference in the tax bill amount. Prior to the tax bill calculation the assessment is reduced by the amount of exemptions the person and/or property qualifies for that year. The exemptions are as follows:

The residential homestead exemption of up to 5,000, the senior exemption of 3,500; the home improvement exemption which reduces the assessed value up to 25,000, based on assessment attributable to the new improvement; and now, the senior freeze which freezes the assessment at the prior year’s value.

Tax bills also vary due to differing tax rates. There are over 200 different tax rates in Downers Grove Township alone, due to the number of taxing districts serving the citizens in a given area.

Tax bill calculation: Equalized Assessed Value – Exemptions x Tax Rate = Tax Bill

All of the following have the same assessment, however, not all tax bill amounts are the same, as you can see below:

Assessment No. 1
Assessment65,600
Residential Exemption-5,000
Senior Exemption-3,500
Billing Value57,100
Tax Rate0.040985
Tax Bill Amount $2,340.24

Assessment No. 2 differs from No.1 due to a higher tax rate.
Assessment No. 2
Assessment65,600
Residential Exemption-5,000
Senior Exemption-3,500
Billing Value57,100
Tax Rate0.065763
Tax Amount $3,755.07

Assessment No. 3 differs from No. 2 because the Senior Exemption does not apply.
Assessment No. 3
Assessment65,600
Residential Exemption-5,000
Billing Value60,600
Tax Rate0.065763
Tax Bill Amount$3,985.23

Assessment No. 4 differs from No. 3 due to a Home Improvement Exemption.
Assessment No. 4
Assessment 65,600
Residential Exemption-5,000
Home Improvement
Exemption
-25,000
Billing Value35,600
Tax Rate0.065763
Tax Bill Amount$2,341.16

Assessment No. 5 differs from all; has all Exemptions.
Assessment No. 5
Assessment65,600
Residential Exemption-5,000
Senior Exemption-3,500
Home Improvement
Exemption
-25,000
Billing Value32,100
Tax Rate0.065763
Tax Bill Amount$2,110.99

 

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