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Ask the Assessor: 3 Property Tax Questions You Need Answered

Frankfort Township Assessor Joe Kral talks about the inquiries he hears most often from homeowners about their property taxes. Plus, leave your own questions for Kral in the comments section.

Ask any homeowner what the most irritating part of owning that dream two-story Colonial is and odds are property taxes will be in his or hers top 5 list (probably behind that pesky squirrel who knocks out all the bird seed from the backyard feeder).

Even longtime homeowners can be confused at how their property tax bill is determined.

That's why Assessor Joe Kral--the man who establishes a home's property value--has been making the rounds in the area to answer residents' property tax questions. He's visited the libraries in and , and he returns to at Thursday, April 12, . (Registration for the event is closed.)

With homeowners' first property tax payment due June 1, Patch asked Kral to talk about the three questions he hears the most from residents when it comes to their tax bills.

If my home value dropped, why did I pay more in property taxes?

This is the most common question Kral gets asked, which isn't a surprise given how frustrated residents can get over their property tax bill.

Although a home's assessed value helps establish the tax rate, it doesn't directly determine whether a homeowner's tax bill will be higher or lower. Here's how Kral breaks it down:

If a taxing body needs $5 million to operate and the assessed value of the homes in your area is $500 million, the tax rate is 1 percent.

Let's say your individual home is assessed at $100,000. That means you'll be paying $1,000 in property taxes.

Hypothetically in the following year, your new assessment drops to $95,000. Yet the overall taxing burden remains at $5 million. The Will County treasurer would then recalculate the tax rate higher to satisfy the levy request, resulting in tax bills that would remain the same. In addition, If the taxing bodies need additional funding, the levy request would result in a greater increased tax rate and an even higher tax bill even though the assessment has been reduced.

What is an assessed value?

A homeowner's assessed value is 33.33 percent of the fair market value and is determined using sales data from the three previous years, Kral said. Assessors are required by the state to create a three-year median of home sales, which creates a lag in calculating assessments compared to a house's current value, he added.

How can I check to see if my assessment is correct?

The state allows for an appeal process in August if a homeowner doesn't agree with an assessment, Kral says. But by that time, it's late in the process, and the appeal requires a lot of effort on the part of homeowner.

The assessor's office office has set up a "soft appeal" that allows residents to sit down with Kral and present their evidence in a casual atmosphere.  This process must be completed by June 1.

Go to the Frankfort Township Assessor's website for more information on property taxes, home assessment and how to set up a soft appeal.

Have more questions for Kral? Leave them in the comments section, and Frankfort Patch editor Joe Vince will give them to the assessor to answer in future articles.

William Caldwell April 12, 2012 at 03:59 PM
I protested, past the local level, Real Estate taxes on property I own in unincorporated Will County. I received a phone call and was told if I would agree to a valuation which was lower than it should have been, I would receive a check. I agreed and the check have not shown up. What should I do? Thanks. Don Schlegel
Joseph Kral Frankfort Township Assessor April 12, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Hi Don Not sure if I have the information correct. If you have specific questions relating to your personal assessments or your appeals, it would be better handled with a phone call to the office. 815-464-3180. But I will try to explain the procedure. When a constituent files and wins an appeal with the Will County Board of Review the assessment is changed before the tax bills are issued and there is no refund. If you filed an appeal with Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB), after losing at the Will County Board of Review level, and won, the refund from paid taxes would be issued by the state. Thanks for the question Joe Kral
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