Property Tax Levy
Every year, Illinois statute allows your local governing bodies; school district, village, park district, library, etc. bodies to levy your property taxes equal to CPI (consumer price index/rate of inflation) plus new property growth, up to 5%, whichever is less, without having to go to the community and ask via a referendum.
In other words, each year, each of your local governments has the right to levy (increase) your property tax obligation, even when property tax values have declined and without asking. They typically do and once captured, this tax never goes away and/or decreases. This is why you see your property tax bill grow year over year, even when the value of your property does not or declines. At the same time, this allows for your local governments revenue stream to increase year over year and often, expenditures.
Below is the percentage of your annual property tax that each of Wilmette’s local governing bodies captures:
Taxing Body Rate Percentage of Property Tax
WPSD 39 3.502 37.6%
NTSD 203 2.38 25.6%
Village of Wilmette 1.078 11.6%
Cook County 0.552 5.9%
Wilmette Park District0.518 5.6%
Reclamation District 0.426 4.6%
Wilmette Library 0.395 4.2%
Other 0.452 4.9%
Total 9.303 100%
Some basic definitions:
Property Tax: Property tax is the tax liability imposed on homeowners for owning real estate.
Levy: The act of imposing a tax on someone is known as “levying” a tax.
Property tax is a tax based on ownership of a piece of real estate. A “levied property tax” is a tax imposed on property owners, based on the value of their property and the municipal government’s needs (or wants). Property taxes in Cook county are due twice a year, March 1 and August 1, and failure to pay can result in serious consequences.
In addition to the government’s ability to impose a tax, the word “levy” also refers to the government’s power to seize property to satisfy the value of taxes you haven’t paid. A levy of this kind may be imposed on any kind of property, including real estate. While a brief failure to pay property tax usually results in only fines, interest or other penalties, if the tax remains unpaid long enough, the county may have the power to levy, or seize, your property as a substitute. In such cases, the government usually sells the property and keeps the proceeds of the sale in lieu of the taxes you didn’t pay.
Your property tax payment is typically determined by two factors: the assessed value of your property, determined by the Cook County assessor’s appraisal, and the county’s needs (or wants).
Your local governing bodies are disclosing their plans to levy your taxes now and the amount they’ll be increasing. Pay attention. The Village of Wilmette has their plan for the 2017 Levy posted on their website https://www.wilmette.com/finance/tax-information/property-tax/. District 39 will be introducing their plan for the 2017 Levy at the next Board of Education meeting on Monday, October 23, 2017, at 7:00pm at the MEC. This is something EVERYONE should pay attention to. Your property tax bill is likely your largest annual “non-discretionary” expense next to your mortgage payment (in some cases, it may even be more).
As the taxpayer, you play both the critical role of employer and the client, roles that need not only attention, but engagement and input. While it is practice and legal for your local governing bodies to levy your property taxes annually, there is always the option not to. The question all residents should consistently be asking themselves and their local boards are “do we need to?”