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Not understanding property tax assessments is a common issue, especially in Illinois where the law is a little different than the standard followed in most other areas.

According to Curbed Chicago, the property tax assessment process in Illinois is undergoing some changes to make things more transparent due to mishandling by a former elected official. One of the most important things you can do during this time to watch out for yourself is to make sure you understand how property taxes work.

No fixed rates

Most areas have fixed-rate systems where you will pay a set amount based on factors related to the property you own. In Illinois, the rates come from the need of the schools. Every year, they determine how much money they need to raise to operate. The government then divides that amount among property owners. This ensures that the schools get all the money they need. The division is equitable and dependent on your share. Your share comes from your property assessment.

Changing often

Because the school system’s needs will change year to year, your property taxes may change annually.  You would need to know the whole amount the schools need and do the math to get your percentage. If your percentage does not change, then your taxation has not changed from the prior year, even if you owe more this year.

Job of the tax assessor

In addition, because of this system, the Tax Assessor’s office does not set the amount you pay. It only figures your percentage. if your percentage did not change, then you probably do not have any reason to contact the assessor’s office as there is nothing it can do to help.