A key factor in preparing this year's property tax bills has arrived.
Crawford County has been issued a tentative property assessment equalization factor of 1.0000, according to Illinois Department of Revenue Director Brian Hamer.
The property assessment equalization factor, often called the "multiplier," is the method used to achieve uniform property assessments among counties, as required by law.
With the multiplier in, county officials can prepare this year's property tax bills.
The multiplier is particularly important because some of the state's 6,600 local taxing districts - such as school, community college and fire protection districts - overlap into two or more counties. If there were no equalization among counties, substantial inequities among taxpayers with comparable properties would result.
State law requires property in Illinois to be assessed at one-third of its market value. Farm property is assessed differently, with farm homesites and dwellings subject to regular assessing and equalization procedures, but with farmland and farm buildings assessed according to standards based on productivity.
The equalization factor is determined annually for each county by comparing the sales price of individual properties sold over the past three years to the assessed value placed on those properties by the county supervisor of assessments.
If this three-year average level of assessment is one-third of market value, the equalization factor will be 1. If the average level of assessment is greater than one-third of market value, the equalization factor will be less than 1.
And if the average level of assessment is less than one-third of market value, the equalization factor will be greater than 1.
Assessments in Crawford County are at 33.07 percent of market value, based on sales of properties in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The equalization factor currently being assigned is for 2013 taxes, payable this year.
The equalization factor for the county last year was 1.0000 the last three years.
Last year, the multiplier was .9697. Assessments were at 34.37 percent of market value.
A change in the equalization factor does not mean total property tax bills will increase or decrease.
Tax bills are determined by local taxing bodies when they request money each year to provide services to local citizens. If the amount requested by local taxing districts is not greater than the amount received in the previous year, then total property taxes will not increase even if assessments may have increased.
The tentative factor could change if the Crawford County Board of Review takes action that significantly affects county assessments, or if county officials provide proof to the Department of Revenue that it should be adjusted.
The assessed value of an individual property determines what portion of the tax burden a specific taxpayer will assume. That individual's portion of tax responsibility is not changed by the multiplier.