Below are some groups of frequently asked questions.  Any additional questions may be directed to the County Assessment Office at (815) 777-1016 or assessor@jodaviesscountyil.gov

Basic Assessment Questions

How do I change the mailing address on my tax bill?
An address change form must be completed and is available by clicking here. The form must be signed and dated by the owner, and it must be returned to the County Assessment office at 330 N Bench St, Galena IL 61036
How old do you have to be to receive the senior homestead exemptions?
You have to be at least 65 years of age to start receiving the senior homestead exemptions. Visit our Homestead Exemption link for more information.
What types of tax relief are available?
There are several exemptions available to provide tax relief to homeowners. Visit our Homestead Exemption link and Farmland Assessments link for more information.
What is my PIN (Property Index Number)?
Your PIN is your identification number assigned to your property. All PINs in Jo Daviess County start with 43-XX-XXX-XXX-XX. You may call the County Assessment Office for your PIN or visit our online property search link.
Where does my assessment come from?
Here is an overview of understanding your assessments.
Who do I contact for questions about my assessment?
For questions regarding your assessment, please contact your local township assessor. Visit our Township Assessor link for more information.
What is the square footage of my house?
Information regarding your property is available in the County Assessment Office or on-line. Visit our property search link.
Are there any programs available for rural acreage that could reduce the assessed value of the property?
Yes, you may find more information at www.jodaviesscountyil.gov/farmland.

General Information

What is property tax?
Property tax is a tax based on the fair cash value of the property owned. For this reason, it is often called an ad valorem tax, meaning that we tax "according to value" of real estate.
What is the history of the Illinois property tax?
When Illinois became a state in 1818, the Constitution contained a provision for taxing property in direct proportion to the value of property. From 1818 to 1930, amendments to the Constitution provided the State with various powers and authorities concerning property tax. The Revenue Act of 1872 gave Illinois final authority for setting valuations. The last year the state levied real estate taxes was 1930.

Since then, property taxes have been levied at the local level. The Department of Revenue issues guidelines (e.g., determining equalization factors, approving exemptions, distributing assessment manuals, etc.) and provides technical assistance to local assessing officials.

Property tax is a local tax assessed by the county. Revenues from property tax are collected and spent at the local level; schools, parks, roads, cities, villages, special service (ambulance), etc.
What is considered property?
Property can be divided into two classes - real and personal.

Real property is land and anything permanently attached to the land. Examples are buildings and fixtures permanently or constructively attached to a building. Personal property is all property which is not real property.

Personal property includes automobiles, livestock, money, and furniture.
How is the value of property determined?
“Value” is a complicated concept with many definitions. The measurement of market value for tax purposes is the job of the assessors. Most real property in Illinois must be assessed based on its value on the open market; this value is the most probable sale price of a property in terms of money in a competitive and open market, assuming that the buyer and seller are acting prudently and knowledgeably, allowing sufficient time for the sale and assuming that the transaction is not affected by undue pressures.
How are farm properties valued in Illinois?
Farms in Illinois are not assessed according to traditional market value but according to “agricultural economic value,” which is defined by law. This value is based on statewide studies of soil capability and of the net income generated from farmland in Illinois. Each soil type in the state is rated by the University of Illinois - College of Agriculture according to its capability of producing crops. This rating is known as the “soil productivity index”. A State Farmland Technical Advisory Board certifies to the Department of Revenue a five-year average net income for each of these soil ratings. The agricultural economic value for each index is then calculated by dividing the net income by the average of the Federal Land Bank mortgage rate for the same five years. These values are certified to each county by the Department of Revenue by May 1st of the year before they are to be used in assessing. In each county, a Farmland Assessment Review Committee, consisting of local officials and farmers, advises the Chief County Assessing Officer regarding the interpretation and application of the values certified. This committee may propose alternate recommendations to the Department if it disagrees with the values certified. The State Property Tax Appeal Board makes the final decision if there is any disagreement as to the appropriate values and procedures to be used in a county.

To assess an individual farm, the soil productivity index rating for the farm’s crop land and assesses this acreage at one-third of the agricultural economic value certified for these ratings. Permanent pasture is assessed at one-third of the value that would be assigned to it if it were cropland, and “other farmland” (e.g. forest land, grass waterways) at one-sixth of cropland. Wasteland has no assessed value unless it contributes to the productivity of the farm.

Farm buildings are assessed at one-third of the value they contribute to the productivity of the farm. Farm home site and dwelling assessments are based on market value.
How did the new legislation which was passed in 2013 affect how farmland is now valued?
In 2013, PA98-0109 Farmland Assessment Amendment was passed. In 2015 the legislative changes took effect. Since the enactment of the Farmland Assessment Law in 1977, farmland in Illinois is assessed for property tax purposes on its ability to produce a crop and not on its market value. In 1986, the farmland law was amended imposing a 10% cap on changes to the value of farmland.  This cap has restricted the growth of the certified value of lower producing soils so that it is now not reflecting the productive value of the soil. PA98-0109 amended the Property Tax Code to limit the increase or decrease in its previous year’s soil PI certified values to 10% of the median cropped soil less $5.00 for tax year 2015. For tax year 2015 payable in 2016, all soil types in the PI scale will receive the same dollar per acre increase less $5.00. The increase for each PI for 2015 was $15.33. For subsequent tax years after 2015, the $5.00 deduction will be eliminated and the increase or decrease will be limited to 10% of the previous year’s soil PI certified value of the median cropped soil.
Who must pay property taxes?
All owners of real property must pay property tax unless specifically exempted by State law. Leaseholders must pay property tax if they are leasing real estate from an owner whose property is exempt from property tax. Owners of business, industrial, agricultural, and residential property all pay property tax. Renters also contribute to the property tax but do so indirectly through their rent. Landlords consider taxes as cost of doing business and adjust their own rents to cover them. In Illinois, taxpayers now pay property taxes only on their real property. Personal property tax for individuals was eliminated in 1969.
Who spends property taxes?
Property taxes are raised, spent, and distributed locally. They finance a major part of the services provided by local government units, which benefit Jo Daviess County citizens and their property. The largest share of taxes goes to school districts, generally 65% of each tax bill.
How important is the property tax compared to other taxes?
The property tax is the major source of tax revenue for local governments in Illinois, as it produces more than three-fourths of their total tax revenue. Some types of governmental units, such as cities, are less dependent on the property tax than other units, such as school districts, which have no other taxing powers.

The Property Tax Cycle - from the assessment of property to the collection and distribution of taxes - takes nearly two years for most property. It can be divided into six steps:
(1) Assessment
(2) Review of Assessments
(3) Equalization
(4) Levy
(5) Extension
(6) Collection and distribution of property tax revenue


What is equalization?
Equalization is the application of a uniform percentage increase or decrease to assessed values of various areas or classes of property in order to bring assessment levels, on average, to the same percentage of market value.

Equalization of assessed values is important (and performed) at each level of government - township, county and state.
Who has the authority to equalize?
Chief County Assessment Officers, County Boards of Review and the State possess certain powers to equalize assessments. Chief County Assessment Officers determine the level of assessments for non-farm property by conducting annual assessment/sales ratio studies. These studies may be done for geographic areas within a county (generally township or multi-township assessment jurisdictions) or by class of property. Then, the Chief County Assessment Officers and/or Boards of Review may use equalization to raise or lower the assessments in an effort to achieve greater uniformity and equity within the county.
How much variation in assessments exists among the counties?
In Jo Daviess County, the level of assessment is generally very close to 33.33%. Counties that do not achieve the statutory level will receive a State-issued factor other than 1.0000 to bring assessments, on average, to 33-1/3 % of market value.
How does the equalization factor affect the assessment on taxpayer's property?
After receiving final equalization factors from the Department of Revenue, County Clerks must multiply the locally-assessed value of each non-farm parcel in their counties, other than coal rights, by those factors. Unless a factor is 1.0000, this multiplication will either increase or decrease the locally-assessed value of each parcel. The result is the equalized assessed value for a parcel for tax billing purposes. Farms and coal rights are not affected by the factor, as their assessed valuation is defined by law as an equalized assessed value.

Tax Billing and Collection

How does the equalization factor affect tax rates?
Count Clerks calculate tax rates for each taxing district by dividing the district's tax levy by its tax base. A tax base is composed of the equalized assessed value of locally assessed property, less any homestead exemptions, plus the value of any State-assessed property. A levy is the amount of revenue a taxing district wants to raise through property taxes. The greater the tax base, the lower the tax rate needed to raise a given levy. An increased base, which may result from an increased equalization factor, generally results in a lower tax rate. A decreased base, which may result from the deduction of exemptions, results in an increased tax rate.
What is a levy?
  • The governing board of each taxing unit determines how much money is needed to operate during the coming year and how much must be raised from the property taxes.
  • Certified to the County Clerk no later than the last Tuesday in December.
  • Tax levies are made for the various activities of government.
  • Money is allocated separately for each levy by spending account or "fund".
  • The fund structure is the framework within which the financial decisions of local governmental units are made.
  • Government bodies are entitled by State statute to use a number of funds. These could include a corporate (or general) fund, a bonds interest fund, and other specialized funds, such as a fire protection fund, a library fund, or a street and bridge fund.
How do levies affect tax rates?
Levies are made in dollar amounts. In order to raise the money requested in levies, County Clerks must calculate numbers which, when multiplied by the total equalized value (the tax base), will yield the amount of the levy. This number is the tax rate. Property tax rates are subject to limits set by the State Legislature. The applicable limit depends on the type of governmental unit and the type of fund. If the rate necessary to raise the amount of the levy is greater than the maximum legal rate, the maximum legal rate is applied and the amount of money raised is less than the levy. In some cases the tax rate limits may be modified by referendum.
What makes tax bills increase?
The amount of a property tax bill is determined by two things:

  1. A property's equalized assessed value (a taxpayer's share of the total tax base)
  2. The applicable tax rates, which depend on the level of spending of local taxing units in which the property is located.
If assessed values increase because of inflationary increases in property values, tax bills will not necessarily increase. As long as taxing districts do not increase their spending, a general increase in assessed values (i.e. the tax base) will mean lower tax rates and tax bills will stay the same. If taxing districts increase their spending, however, tax bills generally will increase regardless of changes in assessments.

The "Truth-In-Taxation Law" requires taxing districts to publish notices to taxpayers if the districts' proposed levies are at least 5 percent greater than the amount billed to property taxpayers the year before (excluding bonds and interest and election costs). This amount billed is called the extension. Districts must hold public hearings regarding proposed tax increases. County Clerks may not extend more than 5 percent over the previous year's extension if a taxing district does not certify that it has complied with these publications and hearing requirements.

When taxpayers feel their property assessments are unfair when compared to assessments on similar properties, they should use the appeal procedures outlined previously. On the other hand, if their appeal is that tax bills are going up, they should attend "Truth-in-Taxation" hearings to become familiar with the needs of local taxing districts which are spending their money, and to express their concerns about increasing taxes.
When are taxes extended (billed)?
The County Clerk can begin the process of extending taxes only after the Board of Review has completed its work, State assessments and the final equalization factor have been certified to the County, and all taxing units have levied. Since many Boards of Review do not adjourn until December or later, extension of taxes does not begin until the year following the assessment year.
How is the tax rate computed?
The County Clerk calculates a tax rate for each fund used by each taxing district by dividing the tax levy for that fund by the district's total equalized assessed value that remains after deduction of homestead exemptions.

If the resulting rate exceeds the maximum allowable rate, the extension is limited to the amount which the maximum legal rate will produce when applied to the tax base.

The total district extension is further limited to 5 percent over the previous year's extension (excluding bonds, interest and election costs), unless the "Truth-in-Taxation Law" publication has been made and a hearing held.

Property Assessments

What is an assessment?
An assessment involves identifying the real property within a jurisdiction, listing it, appraising it and placing a value for it on the tax rolls. This value is known as the assessment and is the basis for determining what portion of the total tax burden each property owner will bear.

In Illinois, the statutory assessment level is normally one-third of the market value of a property with several exceptions including:

  1. Farmland
  2. Approved forestry management plan
  3. Common areas
  4. Certain subdivision land
  5. Approved dedicated nature preserve, conservation stewardship, conservation easement
Who assesses property?
Most property is locally assessed, meaning valued by an assessment professional in our County. In Jo Daviess County, township assessors have primary valuation responsibility. All Assessors in Jo Daviess County are either elected by the constituents of their jurisdiction or contracted by the township board and work part-time. Assessors must qualify to hold office on the basis of certain course work in assessment techniques.

A few types of property are assessed by the State, such as railroad operating property and pollution control facilities which have been certified as such by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The value of state-assessed property is a small percentage of the value of all taxable property. State-assessed properties are valued by the Department of Revenue, and assessments are certified to appropriate County Clerks for inclusion in local tax bases.
Who oversees that the assessment work is completed each year?
The completion of the assessment process by assessors is subject to supervision and, if necessary, revision by the Chief County Assessment Office. The Chief County Assessment Officers are usually appointed by County Boards and must have relevant experiences, pass a qualifying examination given by the Department of Revenue and possess a professional appraisal designation.  The assessors do not report to anyone in the Chief County Assessment office as they are an elected position.
When are initial assessments complete?
By Illinois statute the assessors must complete their assessing work by the June 15th deadline of the current assessment year.

After they have certified their assessment books as being correct, they turn them in to the Chief County Assessment Office, which equalizes assessments to 33.33% of market value through the use of an equalization factor.

Assessment books are then given to the County Board of Review for further review in the assessment appeal process.
Are taxpayers notified about the assessment on their property?
In Jo Daviess County we have Quadrennial Assessment years (Quads), meaning our County is sectioned off in quarter quads. Every four years your property is reviewed for a general assessment year, the Chief County Assessment Office lists all property assessments in a local public newspaper in the county, and also post the assessments on its county’s website, and all taxpayers are sent an assessment notice. In the years between the Quadrennial Assessment years, a list of real estate assessments which have had a physical changed are published. If a factor is applied to property, only the factor is printed in the paper.
What property is exempt from property tax?
The Illinois Constitution allows an exemption from real estate taxes for property of the State, units of local government and school districts, property used exclusively for agricultural and horticultural societies, and for school, religious, cemetery, and charitable purposes, as long as the property is not leased or otherwise used with a view to profit. Exemption of most property of the Federal government is required by Federal law.

Property owners must apply for these exemptions to their County Board of Review. After hearings are held on these matters, recommendations are made by the Board of Review and forwarded to the Department of Revenue. Once the property is approved for exemption, the owner, agent or attorney must annually file a Certificate of Status of Exempt Property with the Board of Review to retain that exemption. This Certificate is mailed out annually to the owner of record by the Chief County Assessment Office.
What property tax relief is available?
Read about the tax relief opportunities on the Homestead Exemption and Farmland Assessment pages.
What problems are generated by inequality in assessments for taxpayers?
Variation in assessment levels can create problems for taxpayers. Most obvious is the unfair distribution of the tax burden among taxpayers within the same taxing jurisdiction.

If, for example, two adjacent houses with identical market values of $100,000 were assessed at different levels of their full value, say 20% and 50%, one house would have an assessed value of $20,000 and the other of $50,000. Under a tax rate of 7% ($7 per $100 of assessed valuation) the first homeowner would have a tax bill of $1400 while the second would pay $3500, even though their houses have the same market value. Assessors should prevent this type of inequality by assessing at a uniform level within a jurisdiction.

Assessment Review/Board of Review

What can taxpayers do if they believe their assessments are unfair?
  • First you should contact your local township assessor to review and discuss your issue. 
  • If that is unsatisfactory, you may file a complaint to the Jo Daviess County Board of Review.  You may file an appeal 30 days after publication of the assessment notice (no earlier, and not past the deadline).  Your appeal is more likely to be successful if you present evidence that comparable properties in the same neighborhood are assessed for less than yours.  Complete rules and forms are available on this website.
  • If you disagree with the local board’s decision, additional remedies may be sought by going to the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB.)  PTAB can be reached at http://www.ptab.illinois.gov/ or by calling 217.782.6076
Who sits on the Board of Review?
Illinois law mandates composition of the Boards of Review. In most township counties, three persons appointed by the County Board comprise the Board of Review. In counties such as Jo Daviess County, candidates for the Board of Review must pass an examination administered by the Department of Revenue.

The Board of Review in Jo Daviess County is housed in the Chief County Assessment Office located in the County courthouse. The Chief County Assessment Officer (CCAO) is the Clerk of the Board of Review. The CCAO staff serves as the support mechanism for all Board of Review activities and the staff of the office is also able to answer taxpayer’s questions on assessments.

By law, Boards of Review must convene by the first Monday in June. The Jo Daviess County Board of Review completes hearing appeals in early February of the following year or prior. After the Board of Review adjourns, assessment books are returned to the County Clerk for computation of tax rates and tax bills.
What powers and duties do Boards of Review have?
As discussed above, the Board of Review has the power to raise and lower individual assessments on appeal. They may also adjust assessments on their own initiative. No assessment can be raised however, until the affected taxpayer has been notified and give the opportunity for a hearing.

Boards also have the power to assess property that has been omitted from assessment rolls. They have the duty to ensure that assessments are equitable within counties by applying a blanket increase or decrease on areas within the county, on classes of property, or on townships requiring an adjustment based on assessment / sales ratio studies.

They also review petitions for exemption from property taxes and make recommendations to the Illinois Department of Revenue, which rules on exemptions.
What are the steps to appeal an assessment?
  1. Review all of the information on the assessment notice.
  2. Review your property record card.
  3. Discuss any questions on your assessment value or property information with your township assessor.
  4. If an assessment appeal is in order, prepare evidence by using the Jo Daviess County Assessment Complaint Form, and other materials such as appraisals, or sales documents and dated photos.
  5. All complaints must be post-marked by deadline date, no exceptions will be granted. If post-marked after deadline date, complaint is dismissed.
  6. The Board of Review will review your complaint and then issue a tentative notice. If you agree with the notice you do nothing. If you do not agree you have to set up a final hearing within the alloted time with the Board of Review. Timeline is printed on the tentative notice. Time slots are filled in order.
  7. You can attend the final hearing in person or by telephone.
What are the reason for an appeal?
You have a reasonable appeal if you can support any of the following claims:

  • The assessment of the subject property is based on a factual error (e.g. incorrect square footage, wood deck was removed, no finished basement, etc).
  • The assessment is greater than 1/3 of the subject property's recent sale price.
  • The assessment is greater than 1/3 of the subject property's market value.
  • The assessment of the subject property is higher than that of comparable properties.
  • Matters of law.
When do appeals go to the State Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB)?
Any taxpayer who is dissatisfied with the decision of the local Board of Review may appeal such decision to the State Property Tax Appeal Board. To begin an appeal, a taxpayer must first file a petition for appeal with the Board (as described above). Official forms and Rules of the State Property Tax Appeal Board can be found on their website at http://www.ptab.illinois.gov/.

Appeals to the State Board must be filed within 30 days of the postmark date or personal service date of a local Board of Review's decision. Generally, failure to file within the 30 day period forecloses appeal of the assessment for the year in question. The State Property Tax Appeal Board generally makes assessment decisions on one of two factual bases. The first is that the actual market value of a taxpayer's property is not accurately reflected in the assessment. The other avenue of appeal is an argument based upon equity. Evidence files that are used for the Jo Daviess County Board of Review process are accepted by the PTAB.

Township Assessors

Who is the Township Assessor?
The township assessor is the elected or contracted official who is responsible for estimating the initial market value of most property within the township for use in the Illinois property tax system. The township assessor may be more appropriately called a mass appraiser.
What are the requirements for the position of Township Assessor?
The township assessor is the only Illinois elected officeholder that has educational and certification requirements that must be completed before any election activities may be undertaken. The most common certification, that all current Jo Daviess County Assessors have, is the Certified Illinois Assessing Officer bestowed by the Illinois Property Assessment Institute.

Illinois Property Assessment Institute
What does a Township Assessor do?
Every four years the township assessor is charged with conducting a general assessment of all properties within their jurisdiction. In the general assessment year, the assessor appraises or estimates "fair cash value" (the amount for which a property can be sold in the due course of business and trade, not under duress, between a willing buyer and a willing seller) of all real estate as of January 1 of the general assessment year. The property is then assessed at 33.33% of the "fair cash value", as determined by the Illinois Department of Revenue's sale ratio studies for the three most recent years preceding the general assessment year. (35 ILCS 200/ 1-50, 1-55) The property assessment value is used to determine each taxpayer’s overall share of the tax burden created by units of local government who are funded by the property tax.

In years other than the general assessment year, the township assessor is to list and assess all property which becomes taxable and which was not part of the general assessment. The assessment rolls for these years shall include all new or added buildings, structures or other improvements that were not included in the valuation of the property for the general assessment. The township assessor would also exclude the value of any buildings, structures or other improvements previously included in the general assessment that are no longer present whether or not they are removed by the property owner or destroyed or damaged by fire, flood, etc. In the instance where the improvements are damaged and not destroyed, the assessor shall determine how much the value of the property has been diminished and adjust the value accordingly.
What kind of property is assessed?
Assessors can only assess real property, commonly known as real estate, and all improvements attached thereto. Assessment of personal property ended in 1979. Real property is defined as land and any permanent improvements to the site. This can include structures of any kind. Some variations exist from one township assessor to another as to those items of real estate that are assessed. Amenities that can impact an assessment are: dwelling size and style, basements (finished and unfinished), decks, patios, garages, number of bathrooms, fireplaces, sheds, the exterior cover on the home (brick, stone, frame), condition, quality and age of the home. Land is also assessed according to size, location and use.

The township assessor will rely on exterior measurements of structures when calculating the overall size of the improvements. In order to accurately collect the data used to determine the assessment, it may be necessary for the assessor or their staff to go onto the property. There may also be rare instances when it is important for an assessor to gain entry into the property to clarify certain details; this should only occur if the assessing official provides proper identification and makes an appointment with owner of property.
How is real property assessed?
Land is always valued as if it is vacant. The market or sales comparison approach to valuation analyzes similar properties that have sold recently where both buyer and seller acted without undue pressure in negotiating the final price of the property. Adjustments are made to the selling prices of the comparable properties for amenity differences from the property being appraised.

Because assessors have both a market value and uniformity standard and because they are required to appraise thousands of parcels, assessors will generally use a hybrid combination of the cost and market approaches to accomplish their goals. The cost approach is used to satisfy the uniformity criteria of the statutes. This value is compared to the actual selling prices of all property within the assessment neighborhood that have occurred during the three years prior to the assessment date. With the help of computer assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) systems, factors are developed to adjust the cost valuations either up or down to the median level of 33.33% for a particular group of properties, as indicated by the sales transactions that qualify for analysis purposes.
Where do I go with questions on my assessment?
Start by contacting your Township Assessor; this is the best place for a property owner to start with their questions on the assessed value. Township assessors and the Chief County Assessment Office are regularly communicating with the public, answering questions and responding to concerns raised by taxpayers. Any taxpayer can examine assessment records of any property at any time. The Chief County Assessment Office has a great deal of property assessment information available on its County’s website. With some research and time, taxpayers can search assessment records and make comparisons of their properties with other like properties.

It is up to individual property owners to monitor their own assessments. Taxpayers who feel they are not being assessed fairly should call their township assessor to review their property record card and ask questions. If you are not satisfied you may file an assessment appeal when the time is allowed; 30 days after the publication date.

Township Assessors and the County Assessment Office are interested in fairly assessing the properties within their jurisdiction/County. None of the property assessment offices (township assessor, Chief County Assessment Office, Jo Daviess County Board of Review) have any direct involvement with the computation of your tax bill. Remember that the amount of increase in a particular assessment or tax bill is not an appropriate reason for an appeal of an assessment. When discussing your assessment with the assessors it is recommended that you discuss the fairness of your assessments relative to others and whether the market value estimate is appropriate based upon recent transactions in your immediate area.