What is market value?
Finding the market value of your property involves discovering the most likely price that unrelated individuals both acting with full knowledge of the facts and in their best interest would pay for it in its present condition. This is what is known as an ‘arm’s length transaction’. Finding this number is not always easy, however, because of the limited number of actual sales that occur each year and because the assessor has to find out what this value would be for every property, sold or not sold and no matter how big or small. It is exactly this ability to estimate value that is one of the strengths of the property tax system. But the assessor’s job doesn’t stop there. Each year the process has to be repeated all over again, because the market value of almost everything is constantly changing one year to the next.
The theory behind utilizing a system of Property Tax is that those members of the community who have the advantages of good schools, fire and police protection, and other public benefits can absorb their fair share of the cost. This share is in direct proportion to the amount of money our individual properties are worth. This is known as the concept of “Ad Valorem’ or according to value.
The property tax is part of a well-balanced revenue system. It is a more stable source of money than sales and income taxes because it does not fluctuate when communities have recessions. When the community spends tax dollars on better schools, parks, and so on, your property values rise. Some of the windfall benefits you receive are recaptured by the property tax.
When market value changes, naturally so does the assessed value. For instance, if you were to add a garage to your home, the assessed value would increase. However, if your property were in poor condition, the assessed value would decrease. The assessor does not create the value. People establish value by their transactions in the market place. The assessor simply has the legal responsibility to study those transactions, change the factual data, and appraise property accordingly.
The assessor’s office has very little to do with the total amount of taxes collected. The assessor’s primary responsibility is to find the fair market value of your property, so that you may pay only your fair share of the taxes. The amount of taxes you pay is determined by a tax rate applied to your property’s assessed value. The tax rate is determined by all the taxing agencies such as city, county, school districts, etc. and also depends on what is needed to provide all the services you enjoy.
What else does the assessor do?
The assessor’s office also keeps track of ownership changes, maintains maps of parcel boundaries, keeps descriptions of building and property characteristics up to date, and keeps track of individuals and properties eligible for exemptions and other forms of property tax relief. Most importantly, the assessor analyzes trends in sales prices, construction costs, and rents, to estimate the value of all assessable property.
What are your rights and responsibilities?
In your opinion, if the value of your property differs from the assessor’s by all means go to the office and discuss the matter. Staff will be glad to answer your Questions about the appraisal and explain how to appeal if you cannot come to an agreement. The assessor’s office relies on the property owner for information. You can help by providing accurate information. If you feel taxes are too high, you should make your opinion known to the proper taxing authorities.
If after talking with you local assessor you still feel that your assessment is too high, you have the right to appeal. This right to appeal is part of the due process provided every property owner in Illinois and is a formal legal matter involving the property owner, the board of review and very often the Township Assessor.