What You Need to Know About Lake Forest Property Taxes

Property tax is taxation applied to physical property in a particular jurisdiction that’s owned by an individual or legal entity. The local governing body determines how much tax is assessed and what this tax applies to. Property tax typically applies to real estate and land. However, some jurisdictions tax personal property such as vehicles, as well. Understanding the property taxes in Lake Forest, Illinois, will help you prepare for this annual expense.

While the property taxes in this area are notoriously high, these funds do go to support services and infrastructure that all residents can benefit from. Learning more about your property taxes can help you understand their importance and value.

How Does Property Tax Work in Lake Forest?

Property Tax Home in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Image via Flickr by Teemu008

In Lake Forest, the City Council adopts a tax levy ordinance each year. The city must file this ordinance with the County Clerk by the last Tuesday in December. Lake County uses the levy ordinance to determine how much property tax is required. Using an equalized assessed valuation (EAV), the tax rate is applied equally to all taxable properties in Lake Forest.

When determining this ordinance, the City Council considers how much funding it needs for the coming year to fund taxing bodies and organizations, such as fire departments, school districts, libraries, parks, public safety patrols, infrastructure, water, sewer, and special projects. These budgets are typically based upon the prior year’s spending with an increase based on the consumer price index.

Lake County collects real estate taxes on behalf of the city of Lake Forest. The collection rate is nearly 100% for property taxes, which gives the city a steady and predictable source of income.

How Much Is Property Tax in Lake County?

On average, Lake County collects 2.83% of a home’s assessed value in property taxes. Since the median home value in the county is $265,100 the median property tax is $7,502 a year. Lake County has the highest property tax rate in the state of Illinois. Statewide, the average tax rate is 2.16% of a property’s assessed value. Nationwide, property taxes average 1.07% of a home’s assessed value.

Since exact tax percentages are based upon the value of the home, it’s important to look up the specific property taxes applied to your property. You can learn more about your property taxes if you:

How Is Property Tax Calculated?

Your individual property tax is based on the assessed value of your home, which is determined, in large part, by using the market price. In Illinois, the statutory assessment level is one-third of the market value, unless determined otherwise by law. This applies to all properties across the state. Therefore, the state will evaluate the median assessment for all properties in the county to ensure that this number equals 33.33% level. If the median varies from this percentage, an equalization factor is applied to all properties in the county.

Each township has its own tax assessor. Properties are reassessed every four years. The last assessment took place in 2019. All properties are assessed by Jan. 1 of the tax year. The assessment is then sent to the county, which may make adjustments, as discussed previously. Official assessment notices are mailed to homeowners in late summer. After the assessment is mailed, you have 30 days to file an appeal if you believe the assessed value of your home is inaccurate. Tax bills based on the assessed value of your home are due the following June.

How To Appeal Your Property Taxes

If you disagree with the assessed value of your home as it’s shown on your property taxes, you can file an appeal. However, this is a lengthy process, and even a successful appeal may not change your taxes, as other factors such as the aforementioned equalization will come into play. If you’re interested in trying to appeal your property taxes, you should begin by contacting your county’s assessor.

You can perform a parcel search online for Cuba, Ela, Grant, Libertyville, and Vernon townships. You must begin with this tool if you live in one of these townships. It will give you more details about your home. If this information is false, you may use it to appeal your property taxes. The tool will also allow you to research comparable properties and their assessed home values. Save the information from this part of the page as a PDF to include with your appeal.

You must file your appeal with the county electronically. A link to an online tutorial is included on the appeals page to walk you through the process.

Property Tax Exemptions in Lake County

You should be aware of several exemptions that may reduce your property taxes in Lake County. Working with a qualified tax professional can help ensure that you don’t miss any applicable exemptions that will reduce your tax liability. Some people may qualify for more than one exemption. Potential exemptions include:

  • General Homestead Exemption: Reduces the equalized assessed value by $6,000 for your principal residence.
  • Home Improvement Exemption: Defers the increase in home value resulting from a home improvement for four years.
  • Natural Disaster: Provides an exemption for homestead properties on which a structure was rebuilt as the result of a natural disaster.
  • Non-Homestead Exemptions: Properties used for educational, religious, charitable, or government uses may qualify for a property tax exemption. A business consultant can help you determine whether your business qualifies.
  • Senior Homestead Exemption: Lowers the equalized value of your property by $5,000.
  • Homestead Exemption for Persons With Disabilities: Lowers the assessed value of the property by $2,000.
  • Disabled Veterans Exemption: Makes up to $100,000 of the equalized value of the home exempt from property taxes.
  • Returning Veterans Exemption: Lowers the equalized assessed value of the property by $5,000.

Navigating your property taxes in Lake Forest, Illinois, can be difficult. Consider working with a tax professional from Pasquesi Sheppard LLC to ensure that you handle your property taxes as effectively as possible.