The Property Tax Bill Shock

Written by Ron Kingsley, Lake County Appeal Owner and Tax Attorney



Many residential and commercial property owners were shocked by recent increases in property tax bills.  Part of the reason for the increases is that once every four years, properties in the “collar counties” of Illinois (such as DuPage, Kane, Lake, and McHenry Counties) are revalued (“quadrennial reassessment”).  2019 was the first year of this four-year-cycle, and many property values were raised, resulting in large increases in property taxes owed.  Given the current challenging economic climate, many are wondering “how did this happen?”


In looking for an answer to that question, it is important to understand where the numbers come from.  The assessed value of your property is based on the average sales price of comparable properties in your area over the preceding three years.  But the culprit is not just the value of your property; it is also the tax levy.  Each year, taxing bodies like cities, schools, libraries, park districts, and police and fire districts submit a request for property tax funds.  This request is filled through a levy, which is a percentage of the value of your property.  To figure out the levy amount, the assessor looks at the total assessed value of all properties in an area.  The assessor then figures out what the levy needs to be to raise needed funds.  If the total assessed value of properties goes down, the levy rate is raised in order to secure the funds.  Illinois now ranks No.  1 in the nation for dependence on property taxes to support local governments.  So, when looking for the reason property taxes are so high, look at the spending of local government, schools, libraries, and other groups that are demanding the funds.


While Lake County Appeal cannot do anything to reduce the levy (a percentage of the value of your property), we might be able to appeal your property’s assessed value to ensure property tax justice®.  Your property’s assessed value should be one-third of the property’s fair market value (with some, but few, exceptions).  So, if you multiply the amount on the blue assessment notice that you will receive by three and come up with a figure higher than your property’s value, it is time to contact Lake County Appeal…and acting quickly is imperative.  There is only a 30-day window after the date on the assessment notice to appeal. 


It is noteworthy that a special relief rule applies to homes that are a taxpayer’s primary residence.  Specifically, if Lake County Appeal is able to obtain an assessed value reduction for such a property, by law the assessor cannot raise the property’s assessed value by more than an annual inflation adjustment for the duration of the quadrennial reassessment period (i.e., through 2022).  While this homeowner-friendly provision may provide some taxpayers with some degree of comfort, just because there has been a reduction during the quadrennial reassessment period does not necessarily mean that property taxes have been minimized as much as possible.  Since the evidence changes yearly, it is very common for Lake County Appeal to get a decent reduction one year and then another one in the following year.  As a result, Lake County Appeal advises clients to sign-up yearly to maximize property tax savings opportunities.


If you are ready for property tax justice®, sign up at