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Property Tax Relief and You

Remedies Available to Limit Your Property Tax Liability

Many home and business owners find their property taxes difficult to fully understand, and are uncertain regarding when contesting their tax assessment might be in their best interests. At Winkler Law, we want you to understand your real estate tax bill and be aware of the legal remedies to contest an unfair tax bill.  

Many property owners aren’t fully aware of all of the components of a property tax bill, which includes an assessed valueexemptions (if applicable), an equalization factor (result of study by Illinois Dept. of Revenue to ensure all real property is uniformly assessed with equitable distribution), and a local tax rate. A change in any one of these components can impact your overall tax liability. We have fielded many questions from property owners either unaware of a remedy to reduce their property tax liability or reluctant to contest their tax bills for a variety of reasons. One way property owners can reduce their property tax liability is by challenging the assessed value of their property.

All real property taxation in Illinois is governed by a statute commonly known as the Illinois Property Tax Code, which establishes how properties are assessed and administered, how assessments can be contested and how taxes are collected at the county level. Most Illinois counties (including Lake County) are organized into townships; the township assessor initially establishes assessed values. Of Illinois’ 102 counties, only Cook County operates under a different set of statutes in the Code. (For example, Cook County reassesses property every three years, whereas the rest of the State reassesses every four years.) In Lake County, the last reassessment year was 2019.

By law, all real property must be assessed at 33.33% of its fair cash value. So, for example, if a property has a cash value determined by the assessor of $1,000,000, then the property’s assessed amount should be $333,333. Fair cash value is the amount the property sells for between a willing seller and willing buyer without either party being under duress or compelled to complete the transaction, with such transaction completed in the ordinary course of business. An assessor can assess a property based on (1) the cost to reproduce or rebuild a property less depreciation plus land value, (2) actual market transactions, and (3) present worth of income being produced related to occupancy at the property. It is important to realize that a “sales price” does not necessarily reflect fair cash value.

What grounds might you have to challenge the assessor’s valuation of your property? This answer is grounded in due process and equal protection afforded to all Illinois citizens; everyone is required to equally share the burden of taxation. The Illinois Appellate Court ruled that this equality in tax burden cannot exist without uniformity in assessments and taxation. Therefore, if you notice a comparable property being valued at a lower figure than your property, there is reasonable justification for you to challenge the current assessment on your property.  

Some reasons that would warrant an assessment appeal include, but are not limited to: (1) excessive market value or a recent sale; (2) lack of uniformity; (3) error in classification or property description; (4) excessive vacancy; (5) demolition or uninhabitability; (6) equitable relief for flooding, fires or the like; and (7) income produced by the property.

Property assessment appeals in Lake County can be made to the township assessor, Lake County Supervisor of Assessments, Lake County Board of Review, and the Circuit Court of Lake or the State of Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board.

The team at Winkler Law have years of experience in the area and have scrupulously guided clients through property assessment appeals. Whether regarding a business or home property, remedies are available to reduce an unfair property tax liability. Call 847.466.5280 or visit

  • Thomas Winkler of Winkler Law.