The time has come for McHenry County homeowners to find out how much in property taxes they must pay this year to help keep local governing bodies afloat.
On Friday, 2018 property tax bills are to be mailed out.
Terri Reeves, chief deputy assessor for McHenry Township, said she fields numerous complaints about why taxes are so high and why eligibility requirements for senior citizen exemptions aren’t more flexible.
Although there are steps that can be taken that could lower the amount owed – such as appealing a property assessment when notices are issued in the fall – Reeves said exemption criteria are determined by the state.
“Unfortunately, it is all about the bottom line – the dollars and cents – but we’re talking about people, we’re talking about people’s livelihoods, their homes, where they live [and] their money or lack thereof,” Reeves said. “We need to tell the state this is ridiculous.”
But a closer look of the property tax bill can show a homeowner how much each relative taxing body is asking for and how the taxable value of a person’s home was calculated.
McHenry County Treasurer Glenda Miller said the main things taxpayers look at on their bills are what they owe and what exemptions they may be entitled to.
But the numbers found below the payment installment mail-in slips provide a more detailed picture about how township and county officials arrived at the property tax amount.
The property tax is calculated based on one-third of a home’s fair cash value, or what a homeowner’s respective township supervisor of assessments concludes that they could get for the home. This amount is the assessed value.
This dollar amount could be changed by the township multiplier, which typically adds to the assessed value of a home.
If home sales over a three-year period average higher than market values, the multiplier adds to the assessed value of your home. The multiplier ensures that all taxable property, by township and the county as a whole, is at 33.3% of market values.
Below the township multiplier and equalized assessed value is the taxable value according to the McHenry County Board of Review. This number will come out the same as the assessed value unless a property assessment was successfully appealed.
The state requires the listing of numerous exemptions on property tax bills, which can be found in the same table as the valuation data.
The most common is the general homestead exemption, which offers up to a $6,000 reduction in equalized assessed value for all owner-occupied residences. A senior citizen homestead exemption also is available for property owners 65 years or older.
Seniors 65 or older with a total household income of $65,000 or less can elect to maintain the equalized assessed value of their home at the base year value and freeze any increase due to inflation. Miller said this amount was raised from $55,000 within the past two years.
“I know many people are hesitant to apply for the freeze even if they qualify because they assume it has to be paid back,” Reeves said. “No, the freeze is an exemption. It’s not like a referral.”
Other exemptions are available for disabled residents, disabled veterans and veterans returning home from armed conflict.
Exemptions are subtracted from the assessed value to generate the net taxable amount, which is multiplied by the local tax rate to come up with the property taxes owed for the current year.
The tax rate is the combined rate of each taxing body. These rates, as well as how much was allocated to each taxing body this year and last year, are listed on the lower left corner of the bill.
The first installment of property taxes is due June 3, and the second installment is due Sept. 3. If taxes are paid after each due date, the payment amount will increase by 1.5% a month.
Valley Hi rebate
Included with this year’s property tax bills will be a note on how to claim a share of a $15 million rebate of Valley Hi Nursing Home surplus funds, which was approved by the county board in April.
To be eligible, homeowners had to have taken the homestead exemption on their property during the 2017 tax year for bills payable in 2018. The rebate amount will be based on the amount that homeowners paid in property taxes for the county government portion of their entire tax bill.
Homeowners can apply for the rebate starting June 1 by visiting mchenrytreasurer.org and clicking the “Valley Hi Rebate” link. The deadline to apply is July 31.
Once the application is received, a check will be mailed for the rebate. Any unclaimed funds will be returned to the Valley Hi Nursing Home fund.
For questions about assessments, tax exemptions or address changes, call the McHenry County Office of Assessments at 815-334-4290. For questions about tax rates, call the county clerk tax extension office at 815-334-4242. For billing and collection questions, call the treasurer’s office at 815-334-4260.
When calling, be sure to have your parcel ID number, or PIN, which appears multiple times on the bill, handy so county or township officials can locate your property easier.