Generally, the property tax cycle is a two-year cycle. During the first year, property is assigned a value that reflects its value as of January 1 of that year. (For farm acreage and farm buildings, a certification and review procedure is initiated more than nine months before the assessment process begins.) During the second year, the tax bills are calculated and mailed and payments are distributed to local taxing districts.
This two-year cycle can be divided into six steps.
- Assessment — All property is discovered, listed, and appraised so that values for property tax purposes can be determined. Assessing officials determine most property values; the local county board of review and the Illinois Department of Revenue also have some assessment responsibilities. Assessments are “equalized” to ensure that assessment levels are uniform and at the legal assessment level by applying a uniform percentage increase or decrease to all assessments in the jurisdiction.
- Review of assessment decisions — The Board of Review determines whether assessing officials have calculated assessed values correctly, equalize assessments within the county, assess any property that was omitted, decide if homestead exemptions should be granted, and review non-homestead exemption applications. Property owners and local taxing districts may appeal unfair assessments to The Board of Review and, if the owner is dissatisfied with the board’s decision, the State Property Tax Appeal Board or circuit court.
- State equalization — The Illinois Department of Revenue equalizes assessments among counties and issues a state equalization factor for each county.
- Levy — Taxing districts determine the amount of revenues that they need to raise from property taxes, hold any required public Truth-in-Taxation hearings, and certify levies to the county clerk.
- Extension — The county clerk applies the state equalization factor, calculates the tax rate needed to produce the amount of revenues each taxing district may levy legally, apportions the levy among the properties in a taxing district according to their equalized assessed values so that tax bills can be computed, abates taxes as directed by taxing districts, and prepares books for the county collector.
- Collection and distribution — The county collector prepares tax bills, receives property tax payments from property owners, distributes taxes to the local government taxing districts who levied them, and administers sales of liens on real estate parcels due to nonpayment of taxes.