Cook County Treasurer releases new guide that explains how Illinois property tax system works, why tax bills are so high and how property owners can save money

In an effort to bring transparency to the complex property tax system, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas on Wednesday released an easy-to-understand property tax guide that explains the ins and outs of property taxes.

The guide, “How the Illinois Property Tax System Works,” explains in simple terms how property taxes are determined, the offices involved and how collections are enforced. It includes a glossary of key words.

“Property taxes are very complex and involve six different government agencies,” Pappas said. “This guide helps pull back the curtain on the property tax system so taxpayers know exactly how their tax bill is calculated and where the money goes after they pay their bill.”

The guide also details the money-saving tax exemptions that help lower a tax bill. In addition, the tax guide explains the process of filing an appeal to dispute an assessment. Typically, property owners can appeal if they believe their property was assessed at a higher value than comparable properties in their area.

Readers of the guide may be surprised to learn that Illinois has the second-highest effective residential tax rate. Illinois continues to rely heavily on property taxes to fund local government and has the most units of government of any state. Also, Illinois has some of the highest unfunded pension liabilities in the country, which can result in steep tax increases as counties comply with a state law that mandates pension funds achieve 90% funding in the coming decades.

The property tax primer can be found on the Treasurer’s website, or by clicking this link.