Protect Your Property Rights and Avoid Tax Penalties

Title insurance is a necessary part of a real estate transaction — it protects against loss if a defect is found in the title to property.

Most member attorneys of the Illinois Real Estate Lawyers Association are affiliated with a title insurance company to provide title insurance. Many IRELA members belong to a bar-related title insurance company such as Attorneys Title Guaranty Fund (“ATG”), or are affiliated with an independent title insurance company.

Affiliation with a title insurance company gives an IRELA member the ability to give all parties the extra security of having an experienced real estate lawyer oversee the title clearing process and take a proactive role in clearing liens or other title exceptions to help insure a smooth closing.

Introduction

Whether you are buying an existing home or are buying new construction, there are some important things to know about taxes on real property and about real estate tax bills in order to protect your property rights:

  • Frequency: How often real estate tax bills are issued.
  • Determination of Amount: How the amount of your tax bill is determined, depending on your county of residence.
  • Payment: When your tax payment is due.
  • Action: How to get the tax information you need to protect your property rights.

You need to know how to obtain current real estate tax billing information and when your tax bills will come due so they can be paid in a timely manner so as to avoid tax penalties. If you have established an escrow for taxes with your lender, mail a copy of your tax bill to the lender, and keep a copy for yourself. You should call the county twice each year to verify that your lender is paying your tax bill out of the escrow. Late tax payments generally accrue interest at the rate of 1 ½% per month. If tax bills are not paid in a timely manner, they can also be “sold” by the county, causing you more time and expense to “redeem” the sold tax bills to avoid liens on your property.

A. Buyers of Existing Homes

Buyers of Existing Homes will be responsible for paying all real estate tax bills that come due after the closing date. Taxes in Illinois are paid in arrears, i.e., one year after they are assessed. Credits received from a Seller at a closing for taxes will be shown on your settlement statement. Taxes are billed as follows:

  • Cook County: Two installments of taxes due per year:
    1) first installment bill is mailed in February, and is due in March. (This is an “estimated” bill equal to 55% of the prior year’s total tax bill.)
    2) second installment bill is usually mailed in June or July, and is due August 1st.  (Any adjustments for the tax year will be reflected on this bill.)
  • All other counties: Generally mail one tax bill per year, usually in May:
    1) first installment is due in June. (One-half of total year bill.)
    2) second installment is due in September. (One-half of total year bill.)

NOTE: The first bill to come out after the closing often is sent to the Seller. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PAY THE TAXES ON YOUR PROPERTY WHETHER OR NOT YOU RECEIVE THE BILL, SO YOU MAY WISH TO CONTACT THE COUNTY TO OBTAIN A DUPLICATE COPY OF THE TAX BILL. WHEN YOU CALL OR VISIT, BE SURE TO HAVE YOUR P.I.N. (Permanent Index Number) AVAILABLE.

B. Buyers of New Construction

Buyers of New Construction have somewhat different concerns. Sometimes the Builder pays the tax bill from the closing year because the lots in the new subdivision may not yet have the individual tax parcel numbers assigned which are necessary to allow individual bills to be generated. CALL your builder when the tax bills come out in your area to see if they are getting the tax bill and paying it or if it is being mailed to you.

You will be responsible to pay the tax bill for the closing year when it comes out the following year. If you have a separate reproration agreement with your builder, your builder may be obligated under it to reimburse you for a portion of the closing year tax bill, but the county will treat you as responsible for the entire tax bill. Therefore, to avoid endangering your property rights, you may wish to pay the entire bill first and then seek reimbursement from the builder for the builder’s portion. (NOTE: this issue may be addressed in your contract with your builder, or in a separate reproration agreement, if your builder has agreed to one.)

Permanent Index Number

Your Permanent Index Number (or “PIN”) is the number assigned to your specific real property for tax purposes by the county in which you reside. You will need your Permanent Index Number in order to access any information from the county assessor’s office or to obtain a duplicate tax bill. You may wish to make note of your Permanent Index Number for future reference.

Important Phone Numbers

Here, for your reference, are some telephone numbers of County Treasurer’s and Assessor’s offices in the Chicago area. You can call the office for your county of residence and, with your Permanent Index Number, obtain current information concerning payment of taxes on your property.

Local Township Assessor Numbers

  • Cook County, Chicago Office: (312) 443-7550
  • Cook County, Rolling Meadows Office: (847) 818-2444
  • Cook County, Skokie Office: (847) 470-7237
  • Cook County, Maywood Office: (708) 865-6032
  • Cook County, Bridgeview Office: (708) 974-6451
  • Cook County, Markham Office: (708) 210-4100
  • DuPage County: (630) 682-7004 or -7140
  • Kane County: (630) 208-3818
  • Lake County: (847) 360-6363
  • McHenry County: (815) 334-4260
  • Will County: (815) 740-4682

For telephone numbers of assessor’s offices for individual townships, read on.

Cook County and Surrounding Counties

  • Addison 630/530-8161
  • Algonquin 847/639-2700
  • Antioch 847/395-1545
  • Avon 847/546-2146
  • Barrington 847/381-5632
  • Berwyn 708/788-6600
  • Bloom 708/754-9400
  • Bloomingdale 630/529-6927
  • Bridgeview 708/974-6453
  • Cicero 708/656-3600
  • Crestwood 708/596-8000
  • Crete 708/672-8291
  • Cuba 847/381-1120
  • Deerfield 847/432-2100
  • Highland Park 847/432-2100
  • Downers Grove 630/968-2100
  • DuPage 815/759-1315
  • Ela 847/438-8370
  • Elgin 847/741-5110
  • Elk Grove (Elk Grove) 847/437-0300
  • Geneva 630/208-3818
  • Lake Villa 847/356-2383
  • Lemont 630/257-2522
  • Leyden 847/455-4068
  • Libertyville 847/362-5900
  • Lisle 630/968-1183
  • Lyons 847/482-8300
  • Maine 847/297-2510
  • Markham 708/210-4100
  • Monee 708/534-6023
  • Naperville 630/355-2444
  • New Trier 847/446-8200
  • Niles 847/673-9300
  • Northfield 847/754-9400
  • Palos 708/598-4449
  • Proviso 708/343-1313
  • Rich 708/748-6722
  • Schaumburg 847/884-0030
  • Stickney 708/788-9100
  • Thornton 708/596-6040
  • Vernon 847/634-4602
  • West Deerfield 847/945-3020
  • Wheatland 708/851-9740
  • Wheeling (Wheeling) 847/259-1515
  • Worth 708/371-5557 or 2900
  • York 630/627-3354

© 2010, Law Offices of Ralph J. Schumann

The information contained herein is provided as a public service and should not be construed as legal advice on any specific issue. The contents of this publication are general in nature and you should consult with an attorney to determine how matters discussed may relate to your specific situation. For further information, feel free to contact IRELA. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Transfer Tax Ordinance

Unless exempt by statute, whenever there is a transfer of title to real property (or an Assignment of Beneficial Interest (A.B.I.) in a land trust), state, county, and municipal transfer tax stamps (where applicable) must first be purchased and affixed to the deed (or A.B.I.) before the document can be recorded.

Transfer Tax information for Illinois state, county, and municipal transfer taxes

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