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Guide to Cook County Property Taxes

By Gary Smith
Guide to Cook County Property Taxes

Calculating property taxes is a multifaceted process requiring input from multiple offices and many steps. Here’s a look at how the amount of property tax owed is calculated.

Who Calculates Property Taxes

There are five main entities involved in the preparation of property taxes.

  1. Cook County Assessor: The assessor’s office sets values and decides appeals. The assessor also applies the state equalizer and applicable exemptions to the assessed property value.
  2. Illinois Department of Revenue: This department sets the equalization factor.
  3. Clerk: Taxing districts provide the clerk the property tax levies passed. The clerk also calculates the tax rates and amount based on levies and taxable value.
  4. Treasurer: The Treasurer’s office prints and mails the tax bills as well as distributes the revenue to the various taxing districts
  5. Board of Review: Conducts appeals and revises assessments based on those appeals.

Other Important Definitions

Taxing districts, which provide the clerk property tax levy information, are local government units that include school districts, park districts, and other municipalities that depend on property tax revenue as part of their overall budget. The tax levy indicates the amount of revenue the district is seeking to collect from property taxes. The composite tax rate is the sum of the various taxing districts’ rates based on the amount of revenue requested by those districts.

The equalization factor is a multiplier used to ensure that the EAV, or total equalized value, of a property in all Illinois counties equals 33.33%of the fair market value. This is to ensure that all counties within Illinois are being treated equally for certain state statutes related to property taxes. This is especially important in Cook County, which classifies and assesses the types of properties differently than the other 101 counties.

On the property tax bill, each taxing district is listed, along with the breakdown by dollar amount and the taxing districts’ individual rate, as well as the dollar amount from the prior year. If any dollars are being used to pay into the pension fund, that is in its own column on that line.

When a property owner appeals, it’s the assessed value that is being appealed, not the overall tax bill. The appeals process starts with the Cook County Assessor’s Office and then can be escalated to the Board of Review.