Property tax relief: What you should know

By Ryan Whitehouse

Property tax payments are just around the corner. Make sure you know when yours is due and how you might be asked to pay.

There are two primary ways in which to pay property taxes. A person can escrow them within their monthly mortgage payment or pay them separately to the county treasurer.

For many counties, June will be the month the first installment is due. However, local practices put in place to address limited county functions, and financial strain on residents due to the COVID-19 pandemic, may alter the collection of property taxes in your county. The Illinois property tax code gives county government the authority to waive late fees and interest payments if a disaster proclamation is made at the state or federal level. A few counties across the state have implemented this authority.

NOTE: Please be aware of when your property taxes are due. You are responsible for making the payment on time. County governments have recognized the COVID-19 situation has put a financial strain on some of their citizens.

In an effort to provide some property tax relief, a few counties have decided to provide some property tax relief for those in need. Some counties are delaying the first payment. Others are removing late fees. And then you have a county like McLean that is doing a combination of both.

Of those counties offering payment options, many will require taxpayers provide proof they are experiencing financial hardship caused by COVID-19. In those counties, taxpayers will likely need to apply for the benefit.

It appears most counties offering relief are doing so by waiving late penalty fees on the first installment. These fees are often being waived for up to 90-days, or until payment of the second installment is due. By law, the state requires a 1.5% penalty each month the bill is overdue. Waiving that fee on the first installment would amount to about a $45 per month saving on a $6,000 property tax bill.

On average, 30-60% of taxpayers across the state use an escrow account to pay property taxes monthly along with their mortgage payment. These taxpayers will likely not be affected by a county ordinance impacting property tax payments.

While residents in those counties offering assistance will likely appreciate county efforts, remember our units of local government need these dollars to operate. These dollars pay for services, road projects, construction projects and for first responders. The tax dollars are also distributed to other units of local government. Schools, townships, municipalities, community colleges, libraries, airports and many more use these taxes to provide the essential services within your community. In fact, on average 43% of local government revenue comes from property taxes.

Give credit where credit is due but remember, your property tax dollars fund services vital to your quality of life. Timely payment will help maintain these services.

Remember to check when your property taxes are due and pay them according to local enforcement.

This article appeared in the May/June 2020 edition of LINK.