Property Tax Levy Explained

We all know what our property taxes are, but how many have ever explained what they mean? In this video, I go into great depth to explain exactly how the Lake County Government Property Tax levy works and how it affects your tax bill.

Property Tax and the Property Tax levy are some of the more difficult ideas to understand in Government. In this video you will know what a levy is, how it is decided, and how new property development affects the levy and size of spending in a taxing body.

For more information and videos, visit our Facebook Page at


Lake County Property Tax Appeals

Lake County Property Tax Appeals

Appeal Process

The Lake County Board of Review & Appeal Process
The Lake County Board of Review has the authority to raise, lower or sustain property assessments as appears just. The typical appellant before the Board is a property owner who is dissatisfied with the assessment on a Lake County property.

Prior to filing a formal appeal to the Board, the Board strongly encourages property owners to visit their local township assessor’s office to discuss their concerns. In two types of appeals, those based on a “Factual Error” (such as incorrect square footage of a lot or improvement) and “Vacancy” of an income-producing commercial property, the Board actually requires that the local township assessor’s office be contacted first. Often the reason for an assessment can be made clear or an issue resolved at the local assessor’s office without going before the Board.

Filing an Appeal
For those cases which cannot be settled at the local township assessor’s office, the Board accepts appeals which meet criteria delineated here and discussed in Section III of the Board’s Rules: The appellant must have standing with the Board, must use and complete the prescribed forms of the Board, attach required evidence and submit one copy in a timely fashion – i.e., on or before thirty (30) days after the date of publication of current assessments for a particular township.

It is important to follow the Board’s rules regarding the filing of an appeal. If the criteria are not met, the Board will not schedule a hearing for the case, the Board will not render a decision and the appellant will have forfeited the right to further appeal the current assessment of a subject property.

The Board of Review has a comprehensive online appeal filing application available for the filing of assessment appeals. Comparable sales and assessments can be researched through this application. The Lake County Comparable Property Grid is available in the application and can be uploaded to the Board of Review. The application can accept the upload of documents from recent sales transactions and ad valorem appraisal documents as well.

Appellants choose the basis of their appeals and the form of hearing they prefer.

Reasons to Appeal
The typical bases or reasons for appeals are:

  • The assessment of a subject property is based on a factual error (e.g., incorrect square footage).
  • The assessment is greater than 1/3rd of the subject property’s recent sale price.
  • The assessment is greater than 1/3rd of the subject property’s market value.
  • The assessment of the subject property is higher than that of comparable properties.
  • Matters of law.

The type of evidence required by the Board for each basis or reason for an appeal is specified on the Appeal (application) Form and discussed in Section IV of the Board’s Rules.

Hearing Type
Appellants also may choose the form of hearing for their case. A hearing can be by letter, phone or in person, respectively options “1,” “2” and “3” on the Appeal (application) Form. If by letter, the Board decides the case on the basis of the written evidence submitted by the appellant and local township assessor’s office. The appeal by letter is the easiest form of appeal, because the appellant (and any representative and/or witness) does not need to remember to call nor travel to the Board on a designated date and time.

While any appeal may be heard by letter, two kinds of residential appeals accompanied by required written evidence are particularly well-suited for review by letter. One kind is an appeal based on a Subject Property’s Recent Sale Price and accompanied by a signed Settlement Statement or signed HUD-1, MLS listing history and the recorded Illinois Real Estate Transfer Declaration (PTAX-203). These documents typically are among the closing documents for the sale of a subject property or are available from the real estate broker involved in the transaction. (See the Board’s Rules, Section IV B, for further information.) The second kind of appeal that is well-suited for review by letter, is based on Fair Cash Value and accompanied by an ad valorem appraisal of a subject property, valuing the subject property as of the lien date (January 1st) of the current assessment year. (See the Board’s Rules, Section IVC, for further details.) Aside from the above mentioned instances, any well prepared case based upon comparable properties can also handled by the Board of Review without a hearing.

If the hearing is by phone or in person, the hearing begins with the swearing-in of parties to the case. Appellants and/or their attorney give evidence and testimony. The Township Assessor’s Office presents evidence and testimony. The Board and parties may ask questions. Parties to the case may provide rebuttal testimony. Board members deliberate between or among themselves and render their decision. Hearings are scheduled every fifteen (15) minutes.

The Appeal (application) Form, the Board’s Rules and this website are designed to be instructive. However, for those property owners who have additional questions or concerns, the Chief County Assessment Office conducts Tax Assessment Help Centers throughout the County during the appeal application time periods. In addition, the Chief County Assessment office has taxpayer advocates available each business day that can assist taxpayers with their assessment and appeal process questions.

Board of Review Forms

2019 Rules of the Board of Review (PDF)

2019 Rules of the Board of Review – Spanish (PDF)–Coming Soon

2019 Residential Appeal–Available soon in Smartfile

2019 Commercial/Industrial Appeal–Available soon in Smartfile

2019 Commercial Income/Expense Worksheet (PDF)
This form works best using Internet Explorer, or by downloading and saving a copy to the computer.

2019 Board of Review Vacancy Affidavit (PDF)

Commercial/Industrial Comparison Grid (PDF)

Attorney E-Filing Registration Form (Online Form)

Request to Intervene in Appeal Proceeding (Smartfile)

Click Here to view filing deadlines on the County’s Chief County Assessor’s Office Website.

Click Here to view the Hearing Schedules on the County’s CCAO Website

The Board of Review has made some changes to their rules and procedures for assessment appeal hearings. One misconception is that a property owner would need to have an attorney to file an assessment appeal. Can a taxpayer still file an assessment appeal?

Yes, in nearly all instances a taxpayer can file the assessment appeal without the assistance of an attorney. The county provides a tremendous amount of property assessment related information on the CCAO website. The Board of Review has tools that can be used for searching for comparable property information and completing forms on the office website. Corporations and limited liability companies will need to utilize an attorney in the assessment appeal for their properties. 

Is an attorney the only professional that can represent a party at the Board of Review?

Yes, this is true. In Illinois an attorney is the only professional that can represent a party in a judicial or quasi-judicial setting like the Board of Review process (705 ILCS 205/1).

I have sought the assistance of a real estate broker when I have gone through the assessment appeal process in recent years. How can these types of licensed professionals help me in an assessment appeal with the Lake County Board of Review?

Illinois licensed real estate brokers, real estate appraisers, accountants, and other professionals may assist you with the preparation of case evidence and testify at hearings before the Board of Review as expert witnesses. These professionals cannot represent a taxpayer at a hearing or file an assessment appeal cases on behalf of any party seeking relief from the Lake County Board of Review.

Those not qualified to practice law in the State of Illinois may not appear at hearings before the Board in a representative capacity and may not conduct questioning, cross-examination or other investigations at the hearing. Non-attorneys may not testify at a hearing without the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s attorney. In the instance where an appeal is filed by a non-attorney agent, the materials provided will be returned to the agent. Filing deadlines will not be extended for appellants who utilize non-attorney agents.

Can I e-file my assessment appeal with the Board of Review?

Online filing of appeals  in Lake County. The online filing application allows for the uploading of evidence such as the Lake County Comparable Property Grid, an ad valorem appraisal and a legal brief. For cases regarding the recent sale of a subject property, the online application requires answering a series of questions about the transaction and allows for the upload of a HUD-1 or Settlement Statement. Filers will receive an email confirmation that their case has been submitted within one business day of the filing being completed.

It is important to note that the online appeal application depends upon the successful operation of many electronic systems, each beyond the control of the Board of Review. Lake County cannot guarantee the availability of the online application, and the Board highly recommends appellants not wait until a filing deadline to submit their appeals online. Filing deadlines are fixed and not extended if, for some reason, the online application is unavailable.

How should I go about evaluating my property assessment valuation?

We recommended these steps to review your assessment valuation:
1. Review all of the information on the assessment notice.
2. Visit to review assessment information including property characteristics, comparable property information, and the e-filing process.
3. Discuss any questions on your assessment value or property information with your township assessor’s office.
4. If an assessment appeal is in order, prepare evidence by using the Lake County Comparable Grid, and other materials such as appraisals, or sales documents.
5. Complete and submit an assessment appeal using the Smartfile e-filing system and with supporting evidence to the Board of Review by the prescribed deadline.
6. You can attend the hearing in person, by telephone, or submit case materials and ask the Board of Review to decide the case based on the evidence provided. Most cases can be resolved without in-person or telephone hearing. Particularly cases based upon a recent purchase of a subject property, or those based upon an appraisal provided by an Illinois licensed provider.

How does an assessment appeal hearing work?

At the outset of a hearing the parties to a case are sworn in, appeal hearings are conducted in the following manner: The appellant presents testimony regarding the assessment and answers any questions from the Board. Next, the Township Assessor or a representative from his/her office is expected to be present to give evidence and testimony concerning the property and its assessment. The appellant then presents rebuttal to Assessor remarks. This concludes the evidentiary portion of the hearing. Board Members then deliberate, considering the evidence, testimony and rebuttal, and announce their decision at the close of the hearing. Hearings are scheduled at 15 minute intervals.

What website tools exist to help me with an assessment appeal?
• Comparable Search (available soon) – allows the taxpayer to review their property information, search for comparable properties and complete the Lake County Comparable Property Grid.
• Online Appeal Filing Application – the appellant can e-file their assessment appeal and various documents pertinent to an assessment appeal case.
• Lake County Maps Online – aerial photography and map making ability.

Are there any ways a taxpayer can get assistance with their assessment value related questions?
• Have a conversation with your elected township assessor’s office. Generally these offices want to hear from taxpayers or have them stop in to get their property tax assessment valuation questions answered.

• Talk to a Taxpayer Advocate with the Chief County Assessment Office Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. by calling 847.377.2050, or visiting the office at: 18 N County St., 7th Floor, Waukegan.
• Attend a Tax Assessment Help Center to receive one-on-one assistance from the Chief County Assessment Office.

• Utilize all of the web tools and resources at the Chief County Assessment Office and Board of Review websites.

If I provided appropriate evidence, can my township assessor adjust my assessment after it is published and noticed?

Yes, the township assessor’s office has the ability to modify the assessment value after the assessment notice has been mailed. The assessor can request a valuation change be approved by the Board of Review. These value change requests of an assessor are submitted to the Board of Review electronically.

If I have recently purchased my home and my assessment valuation reflects a market value higher than my purchase price, what can I do?

Generally, this is the most straight forward type of assessment related circumstance. We would suggest that you take information on your purchase and discuss your assessment valuation with your township assessor’s office. Assessors can recommend a change in your assessment valuation to the Board of Review which will eliminate the need to file an assessment appeal.

If you find that your township assessor’s office is unable to make a recommendation to the Board of Review, you will need to file an assessment appeal. In this instance, you will want to provide a copy of the HUD-1 closing document, the PTAX-203 Illinois Transfer Declaration, or any other proof that the sale was advertised and was an arms-length transaction. There is no need to have representation at the Board of Review in this type of circumstance. Often, the Board of Review resolves these types of assessment appeals without a formal hearing.

Is a real estate appraisal a good piece of evidence?

Generally, one of the best pieces of evidence is a real estate appraisal, done for ad valorem property taxation purposes, with a valuation date of January 1, 2019. This is an appraisal that would have been done to determine the value of a property as of the tax lien date (January 1).

Many people have appraisals that have been done for refinancing purposes. These documents can be good evidence of value as well and the Board of Review does accept these documents as evidence.

It is important to understand the scope and purpose of an appraisal that is done for financing can be different than an appraisal that is done for ad valorem taxation purposes. The date of value, time period of comparable sales data and other different lender requirements can significantly affect the value conclusion.

Real estate appraisal is not an exact science. The Board understands that real estate appraisals are educated opinions of value. It is common for value opinions and adjustments to differ from one appraisal professional to another. It should also be understood that in these cases it is common for the township assessor’s office to provide additional market value evidence. The Board of Review will review the appraisal report provided and the assessor evidence to determine an appropriate property tax assessment value for the subject property.

Click Here to file an online appeal at the County’s CCAO website. This will only be active during the open appeal periods.