Property taxes are legally a lien on the property. If taxes are not paid by the due date, the taxes are deemed delinquent. The property owner must pay a 1 1/2 percent interest penalty on the amount due for each month or fraction of a month that the payment is late (until paid or forfeited in counties that have adopted an accelerated billing procedure). The interest penalty is not charged in certain situations, including those identified below.
• The property owner is a member of the Illinois National Guard or a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces called to active duty for deployment outside the continental U.S. and is on active duty on the installment due date (payment must be made 180 days after return from active duty). Guardspersons or reservists should notify the county clerk of activation to active duty.
• The county board has adopted a resolution to waive the interest penalty for persons who are determined eligible for a grant under the Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Property Tax Relief and Pharmaceutical Assistance Act.
If the property owner does not pay the taxes, the county will initiate collection action in circuit court.
Tax sales are one means by which the county enforces the collection of property taxes. Tax sale, redemption, and tax deed issues are often complex. Property owners and tax purchasers may wish to consult private legal counsel.
After the due date for the final installment, the county collector lists all delinquent parcels and other necessary information in the Annual Tax Judgment, Sale, Redemption, and Forfeiture Record. Next, generally in October, the county collector applies to the circuit court for judgment and order of sale for the taxes on the delinquent properties. If judgment is entered, a lien on the property in the amount of unpaid taxes and other associated costs is offered for sale. The property itself is not sold. Property owners are mailed an advance notice of the intended collection action and the county collector also publishes an advertisement in a local newspaper before appearing in court. The property owner or any lienholder may pay the taxes, either in person or by agent, to the county collector any time before the sale.
Both the county collector and county clerk or their respective deputies must attend the tax sale. A lien for each delinquent property is sold separately and in consecutive order. Whomever bids the lowest penalty, which cannot exceed 18 percent for each six months or fraction of a month, is the successful tax purchaser. Tax purchasers receive a certificate of purchase upon completion of a purchase. This certificate describes the property lien sold and lists the sale date and amount of taxes and other associated costs paid by the tax purchaser. If the property owner (or other person with an interest in the property) does not redeem in the allotted time, the tax purchaser may petition in circuit court for a tax deed.
Properties sold for delinquent taxes may be redeemed by any property owner or other person with an interest in the property, other than an undisclosed beneficiary of an Illinois land trust. Redemption periods are based on the type of property and range from 6 months to 2 1/2 years. The purchaser may extend the redemption period for up to three years from the sale date.
The amount paid to redeem a property sold at the annual tax sale is equal to all of the taxes (including all subsequent taxes paid by the purchaser), special assessments, interest, penalties, and costs paid by the purchaser; the accrued penalties; and most other fees or costs paid by the purchaser after the sale. The county clerk computes the required amount of redemption. The redemption computation is similar for forfeited taxes.
The tax purchaser may petition in circuit court for a tax deed if the property owner (or other person with an interest in the property) does not redeem in the allotted time. Owners, occupants, and other parties with an interest in the property must receive advance notice of the tax deed proceeding. The circuit court hears the case and enters judgment ordering a tax deed if the tax purchaser is in compliance with all technical statutory requirements.