Douglas County

The Assessor's duties and what they mean to you

What are the Assessor's duties?

The Assessor is charged with several administrative and statutory duties; however, the primary duty and responsibility is to cause to be assessed all real property within their jurisdiction except that which is otherwise provided by law.  This would include residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural classes of property.  Real property is revalued every four years.  The effective date of the assessment is January First of the current year.  The assessor determines a full or partial value of new construction, or improvements depending upon the state of completion as of January First.

General Misconceptions About the Assessor's Work

The Assessor does not:

The Assessor is concerned with value, not taxes.  Taxing jurisdictions such as schools, cities, and townships, adopt budgets after public hearings.  This determines the tax levy, which is the rate of taxation required to raise the money budgeted.  The taxes you pay are proportionate to the value of your property compared to the total value of the taxing district in which your property is located.
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General Information About the Assessor

Assessors are elected in jurisdictions (Assessment, Multi-Assessment) with a population of 1,000 or more based on the latest census.  Those elected in jurisdictions with 25,000,000 or more non-farm equalized assessed value or 1,000,000 or more in commercial or industrial equalized assessed value must possess at least one of the qualifications listed in 35ILCS 200/2-45.  Most assessors in Douglas County have the designation of Certified Illinois Assessing Official.  Those elected in jurisdictions with less than 25,000,000 non-farm equalized assessed value or less than 1,000,000 of industrial and commercial equalized assessed value must have successfully completed an introductory course in assessment practices or possess the same requirements listed in the statutory reference given above. Appointed assessment officials must meet the same requirements as elected officials.

The Supervisor of Assessments is appointed by the presiding officer of the County Board, with the consent of the Board.  To be eligible for appointment to the Office of the Supervisor of Assessments, a person must have one of the qualifications as set forth in 35 ILCS 200/3-5.  The term of office shall be four years from the date of appointment.  The Supervisor of Assessments, in addition to several other duties as prescribed by law, shall act as equalizing authority for the County, as set forth in 35 ILCS 200/9-210.  This results in the application of various township multipliers, or factors, that bring the assessment level of each township or jurisdiction to 33.33%, the statutory level of assessment required by law.  The Supervisor of Assessments shall annually determine the relationship between the estimated 33.33% of fair cash value and the assessed valuations at which property's listed for each township, multi-township or assessment district.  To make this analysis, property transfers, property appraisals, and other means determined to be proper and reasonable can be used.  This applies to residential, commercial, industrial, farm homes, and farm home sites.

The Douglas County Board of Review is made up of three board members.  Two members are to be affiliated with the majority party and one board member of the minority party based on the results for the same County Office in the last general election.  All members of the Board of Review shall within one year of taking office, successfully complete a basic course in assessment practice, approved by the Department of Revenue. The Board of Review, in addition to several other duties as prescribed by law, shall also act as equaling authority, if equalization by the Supervisor of Assessments and changes made by the Board of Review, does not result in an equalized assessed value of property in the County at 33.33% of the total fair cash value.  This applies to residential, commercial, industrial, farm homes, and farm home sites.
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What is Market Value?

Market value of a property is an estimate of the price that it would sell for on the open market on January First of the year of assessment.  This is sometimes referred to as the "arms length transaction" or "willing buyer/willing seller" concept.
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What is equalization?
The application of a uniform percentage increase or decrease in assessed value.
Where is equalization needed?
To properties in certain assessment jurisdictions that are assessed on average at a percent of market value that is greater than or less than 33.33% of market value based on state law.
When is equalization applied?
Equalization factors can be applied by the Supervisor of Assessments, the Board of Review or the State of Illinois.
Why are equalization factors necessary?
Illinois state statutes require that the assessed value of non-farm property equal 33.33% of market value in all counties except Cook.

Assessment levels must be uniform to ensure:

How is uniformity achieved by various assessing officials?

  1. Assessors try to maintain a uniform level of assessment within their jurisdiction by using recognized appraisal techniques to determine the market value and by reassessing properties on a regular basis so that market values are as accurate as possible before applying the legal level of assessments to the market value.  Even so, some variation in assessment levels may exist.
  2. A statistical process called an Assessment/Sales Ratio Study is used to find the ratio between the assessed value of the property and the sales price is used by township assessors, Supervisor of Assessments and the Board of Review.  The Assessment/Sales Ratio Study shows whether or not assessments within a given area actually average 33.33% of market value.  The study takes actual arms length sales that occur in a given year.  The prior year's assessed value is then divided by the market sale price to determine the level of assessment.
  3. Supervisor of Assessments and County Boards of Review use intra-county equalization.  They look at levels of assessments within assessment jurisdictions to create equity in the assessment process.  The State of Illinois uses inter-county equalization to create equity between counties.  Inter-county equalization eliminates certain tax burden inequities among taxpayers who live within boundaries of taxing districts that overlap two or more counties.  It is not a substitute for proper intra-county equalization.

How is the equalization factor applied?  In intra-county equalization, the factor is applied to the current assessed value. For example, if the current assessment is 30,000 and the assessment district equalization factor is 1.03, the equalized assessed value is 30,000 times 1.03, or 30,900.  This becomes the equalized assessed value for the assessment year and the beginning assessed value for the next assessment year.
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How Does the Assessor Estimate Market Value?

To estimate the market value of your property, the Assessor generally uses three approaches.  The first approach is to find properties that are comparable to yours which have sold recently.  Local conditions peculiar to your property are taken into consideration.  The assessor also uses sales ratio studies to determine the general level of assessment in a community, in order to adjust for local conditions.  This method generally referred to is the MARKET APPROACH and usually considered the most important in determining the value of residential property.  The second approach is the COST APPROACH and is an estimate of how many dollars at current labor and material prices it would take to replace your property with one similar to it.  In the event improvement is not new appropriate amounts for depreciation and obsolescence would be deducted from replacement value.  Value of the land then would be added to arrive to the total estimate of value.  The INCOME APPROACH is the third method used if your property produces income such as an apartment or office building.  In that case, your property could be valued according to its ability to produce income under prudent management; in other words, what another investor would give for a property in order to gain its income.  The income approach is the most complex of the three approaches because of the research, information and analysis necessary for an accurate estimate of value.  This method requires thorough knowledge of local and national financial conditions, as well as any developmental trends in the area of the subject property being appraised since errors or inaccurate information can seriously affect the final estimate of value.
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Why Values Change

State law requires that all real property be reassessed every four years.   Changes in market value as indicated by research, sales ratio studies and analysis of local conditions as well as economic trends both in and outside the construction industry are used in determining your assessment. 
If you disagree with the assessor's estimate of value, please consider these two questions before proceeding, as outlined below:

  1. What is the actual market value of my property?
  2. How does the value compare to similar properties in the neighborhood?
    1. If you have any questions about the assessment of your property, feel free to come in and discuss it with the assessor.
    2. You may file a written protest with the Board of Review, which is composed of three members from various areas of the assessing jurisdiction.  The Board operates independently of the assessor's office, and has the power to confirm or to adjust either upward or downward any assessment.
    3. If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Board of Review you may appeal to district court within twenty days after adjournment of said Board, or twenty days after May 31st whichever is latest.
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Tax Levies and Assessed Values

There are a number of different taxing districts in a jurisdiction, each with a different levy. Each Board of various taxing bodies in the County, including districts that overlap into our County, adopt a budget and an appropriation, conduct a public hearing and adopt a levy.  This levy is filed with the County Clerks Office.  The value determined by the assessor, Supervisor of Assessments, or the Board of Review is the assessed value and is the valued indicated on the assessment roll.  The taxable value is the value after all exemptions are removed.  When comparing the assessed value of your property with other properties always compare with the value on the assessment roll not the taxable value on the tax bill.
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Exemptions and Credits

Illinois law provides for a number of exemptions and credits, including the Owner Occupied, Senior Citizens Homestead, Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze and Home Improvement Exemptions. It is the property owner's responsibility to apply for these as provided by law.  If the property you were occupying as a homestead is sold, or if you cease to use the property as a homestead you are required to report this to the assessor in whose jurisdiction the property is located.  Disabled Veterans Exemptions are filed through the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The State issues to the Supervisor of Assessments Office, a list of those eligible for that exemption.
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Assessment Complaints may be filed within 30 days after the Supervisor of Assessment Notices of Assessment Change have been published. Forms are available in the office of the Supervisor of Assessments.  The complaints are filed with the Douglas County Board of Review.  The Board of Review will be in session from the day notices of assessment are sent until adjournment.

January 1 through December 31 – Period for notifying the Township or County Assessor that the property is owner occupied.  Period for original application for Senior Citizens Exemption.  Period for original application of the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze.
January 1 through May 1 – Period to file for Senior Citizen Renewal, must be renewed each year.
January 1 through July 1 – Period to file for Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption. Must file copies of Federal Tax Return for the year prior to year of application.  Must file copies of SSA-1099 showing amount received from Social Security for the year prior to year of application.
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Things To Remember

Farm homesites and farm homes and appurtenant structures are to be assessed based on its market value. Farm buildings are to be assessed based on the structures contribution to the farm or if none, salvage value.  Farmland is assessed according to the soil type's ability to produce a crop.  These values are certified to the Supervisor of Assessments office on a yearly basis.  Those assessed values are determined on a 5 year average of income and expense data.  Cropland is assessed as certified by the State of Illinois Technical Advisory Committee.  Permanent pasture is assessed at 1/3 of the cropland value.  Other farmland is assessed at 1/6 of the cropland value.  Contributory wasteland is assessed at 1/6 of the lowest cropland certified value.  Additional preferential assessments that must be applied for are as follows:

Original application must be made with the Natural Resource Conservation Service located at 1510 W Reynolds St, Pontiac, IL.

Tentative equalization factors are issued by the Department of Revenue to the Supervisor of Assessments after the Tentative Abstract is submitted to the Department of Revenue. Those equalization factors are based on three years of assessment to sales ratio study within this county.  The final equalization factor is issued by the Department of Revenue after the Board of Review submits the Final Abstract to the Department.
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