appeals off and running

If you live in Burton or Dunham townships, you have 30 days to appeal your property tax assessment.

And today is the deadline for property owners in three other rural McHenry County townships.

Residents of Burton and Dunham townships have until Oct. 19 to file an appeal with the county. Residents of Alden, Greenwood and Seneca townships have until the close of business today.

Property owners have a 30-day window to appeal from the day their townships publish assessments, which determine the owner’s share of taxing districts’ extensions. Burton and Dunham townships published theirs Wednesday in the Northwest Herald.

Burton Township includes parts of Fox Lake and Spring Grove. Dunham Township, largely unincorporated, includes far southern Harvard. Alden, Greenwood and Seneca townships also are largely rural and include Greenwood and parts of Woodstock, Wonder Lake and Bull Valley.

If you live in Hartland Township, you have one more week until your deadline Sept. 28.

You can learn more about challenging your assessment by calling your township assessor or by visiting

Assessment challenges are filed with the county and go before a board of review to determine whether, and by how much, assessments should be lowered.

The number of property owners challenging assessments has reached record levels over the past few years as property tax bills have increased despite significant drops in home values. The county fielded 8,893 assessment appeals last year for this year’s property tax bills, up 51 percent from 2010. The 5,885 appeals filed that year were up 40 percent from 2009.

The rate of inflation for next year’s tax bills is 3 percent, which means that taxing bodies can collect 3 percent more than they did this year. That inflationary increase is double the 1.5 percent increase allowed and billed on property taxes this year.

The tax cap, which is supposed to protect taxpayers by limiting local government’s taxing ability, ironically helps government and hurts taxpayers in a time of falling property values.

State lawmakers in 1991 imposed the tax cap on the collar counties to rein in skyrocketing tax bills by limiting how much more governments could collect to either the rate of inflation or 5 percent, whichever is less. But when values fall, a possibility no one anticipated, the cap works against taxpayers by guaranteeing that taxing bodies are entitled to the inflationary increase if they choose to take it.

A few local governments, such as the McHenry County Board, are choosing keep their levy flat and not take the 3 percent increase next year.

Outrage last year over increased tax bills prompted state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, to attempt to change state law to forbid governments under the tax cap from collecting more in property taxes in years that their total assessment decreases. But his effort has run into significant resistance in Springfield, led by local government lobbying groups that are paid for with our tax dollars.

The bill may come up again in the fall veto session, which starts in late November.

The seven townships that have yet to publish their assessments are Algonquin, Grafton, Chemung, Marengo, Riley, Coral and Hebron.

Tax appeal deadlines

Ten of the county’s 17 townships have published their assessments. Property owners have 30 days from the publication date to appeal their assessments with the county if they so wish.

• Residents of Alden, Greenwood and Seneca townships have until the end of the day today.

• Hartland Township residents have one more week until their Sept. 28 deadline.

• Nunda Township residents have until Oct. 9.

• Dorr Township residents have until Oct. 12.

• McHenry Township residents have until Oct. 15.

• Residents of Burton and Dunham townships have until Oct. 19.

• The deadline for Richmond Township residents has already passed.

On the Net

Visit to learn more about how to challenge your assessment.

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