Mercer Township Assessor

Frequently Asked Questions

I hope the following questions and answers will prove valuable to you. The list below represents many of the most commonly asked questions of taxpayers. Remember that I welcome the opportunity to serve you and answer any other questions you may have. Feel free to contact me if you need additional help.

Q: How can assessments go up if the market isn’t going up ?
A: Even in a down market, assessments can rise for the following reasons: By state law, assessments reflect the past three year’s sales and are based on a valuation day of January 1st of the current year. Therefore, they would not reflect the current market conditions.   

If you had a recent addition or improvement to your property, the assessment will change accordingly. On homestead property a home improvement exemption will be granted for 4 years, this reduction will be reflected on your tax bill

Q: Does an increased assessment automatically mean that my tax bill will increase by the same percentage ?
A: Not at all. In fact, unless one of your taxing bodies (such as a school district or park district) passed a referendum, aggregate tax increases are generally limited to the lesser of 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

Q: How does my assessment relate to market value ? 
A: State of Illinois requires that all property be assessed at one-third (33.3%) of market value for property tax purposes. To determine your home’s market value, based on the assessment, simply multiply your equalized assessed value by three.

Q: What is the “Supervisor of Assessments Equalized Assessed Value” ?
A: The state property tax code requires that the Supervisor of Assessments apply an equalization factor to all property within a township (except for farmland or farm buildings) to make assessment levels uniform among Mercer County County’s townships. This factor can increase the valuation, decrease the valuation, or leave it unchanged. The “Supervisor of Assessments Equalized Assessed Value” is your property’s valuation after equalization is applied. Your tax bill is calculated by applying a tax rate to this equalized value.

Q: How is my tax bill calculated ?
A: Your property tax bill is calculated as follows: Final Equalized Assessed Value minus Exemptions X Current Tax Rate = Total Tax Bill 

Q: What can I do if I feel I am being over-assessed ?
A: The first step is to determine if your assessment is out of line with the market by using an appraisal, competitive market analysis, or reviewing sales of comparable homes. Remember that these sales should have occurred within the prior three years. If your assessment reflects a value higher than the market, contact the Mercer Township Assessor’s office.

Q: How do I file a Complaint with the Board of Review ?
A: All complaints (appeals) to the Board of Review must be submitted in writing within 30 days of township publication. We encourage you to first call the assessor’s office at 309-582-5598, to see if a resolution can be determined prior to filing a complaint. 

Q: Will my assessment increase because I recently purchased my home ?
A: Typically, your assessment will not be increased simply based on a recent sale. Assessments generated for taxation purposes are to be valued using mass appraisal techniques, not on an individual property basis. This means we are required to look at trends in the market of similar homes. An individual sale may have unique influences that do not apply to other homes. 

Q: What will happen to my assessment if I put on an addition or add an improvement ?
A: Any new construction to your property that increases its market value must be reflected in your assessed value. This may include decks, patios, sun rooms, finished basements, expanding living space, etc. Our office receives copies of building permits which initiates a field inspection to verify the details of the new construction. Any new value added to the property will be reflected on the assessment for the following year. The State of Illinois allows for an exemption on these improvements for a term of 4 years. The adjustment for this exemption will be applied on your tax bill. There is a $25,000 cap in assessed value (or $75,000 if full value) on the amount of value to be exempted.

Q: How often do I get reassessed
A: By Illinois law every property must be reassessed at least every four years

Q: : When do assessments get published each year?
A: Assessments are usually printed in The Times Record in the late summer or early fall. In quadrennial years all assessments will be printed. In non-quadrennial years only those assessments that I have changed would be printed. 2015 is a quadrennial year. 2019 will be the next quadrennial.

Q: What do I do if I do not agree with my assessment?
A: If after receiving your new assessment you feel your property has been incorrectly valued, please call this office at (309) 582-5598. I can go over your questions or concerns and make any necessary corrections. If after talking with me you still feel you are not being assessed fairly, you may file a complaint with the Mercer County Board of Review and request a hearing. Complaint forms may be obtained at the Supervisor of Assessments Office within 30 days from the date of publication in the newspaper for the new assessments. Please remember that this hearing must be regarding the market value of your property for the current assessment year only. It cannot be concerning the taxes you pay or your tax rate.

Q: How soon after I move into my newly constructed home will I get a tax bill?
A: Properties are assessed as of January 1st. However, if your home is completed in the middle of the year, it can be pro-rated for the remainder of the year. The first tax bill would be a prorated tax bill the next year, and the first full tax bill would be the following year. For example, if your home was completed on June 1st 2015, you would receive a tax bill for only the land in 2015. In 2016 you would receive a prorated tax bill (reflecting the 6 months the house was completed), and the first full tax bill would be in 2017.

Q: How can my assessment be higher than my recent appraisal?
A: An assessment by state law represents the value as of Jan 1st based on sales from the previous 3 years. For 2015 assessments we looked at sales that occurred in 2012, 2013, and 2014. These sales are analyzed and compared with their assessed values and their sale cost per square foot. The purpose of an assessment is to distribute the tax burden fairly and equitably. If two homes are exactly alike they should have the same assessment even though they may have a different purchase price. The three year average prevents large fluctuations in your assessment, making it easier for you to budget your taxes. An appraisal is usually based on the housing market for the last 6 months to 1 year.

Q: Why are my taxes higher than my neighbor's
A: As the Assessor I do not know what anyone pays in taxes. I only place value on properties in Mercer Township. There may be many reasons why someone’s taxes are less: are they entitled to exemptions that you may not be getting? Is the assessment based on a full year or is it a prorated house that only has a partial assessment? Is the land at a developer’s rate or full residential value? Are they entitled to farm land assessment? Do they have the same taxing districts? Mercer Township has many different taxing districts (such as fire departments or libraries), each with their own tax rate. The various taxing districts for your property would determine the total tax you pay. A list of the taxing districts for your property is on your tax bill, along with each of the taxing district’s rates.

Q: Why did I not receive a notice this year?
A: An assessment notice is sent to a property owner if I made a change to their assessment. If I did not change the assessment there is no notice sent. The Supervisor of Assessment prints my changes in the local newspaper (in Mercer that is The Times Record) along with the multiplier, if any, that would be applied to all properties in the township excluding farmland.

Q: Why has the value of my property increased when I haven't done anything to it for many years ?
A: Improving your home is not the only factor taken into consideration in determining property value, or market value. How many houses are for sale, improving neighborhoods, and inflation can also affect the value of your property. Even though your house isn't for sale, it can be worth more because of these conditions.

Q: Why do similar houses in different neighborhoods have different assessments ?
A: Market values vary causing houses to be valued differently. Real estate market conditions are the cause of market values being different. Location plays an important part in establishing market value. A home’s general location, distance from schools and commercial facilities, quality of the surrounding neighborhood and its amenities are examples of the factors that could cause a purchaser to pay more for a home in one neighborhood than in another.

Q: Why are my taxes so high ?
A: The job of the Assessor is to estimate the value of your property to 33 1/3% of its market value, not to produce your property tax bill. The amount of taxes is determined by the voters, the municipalities, school boards, police and fire departments, and other taxing bodies in the area.

Q: Does the Assessor raise my assessment if I do normal maintenance on my house ?
A: Most normal maintenance of the home will not raise the assessment (i.e., painting your home or replacing your roof). Additions to your home, decks or porches, in ground swimming pools, etc., will add value to your home and may increase the assessment.

Q: How do I appeal my assessment ?
A: The best place to start is by contacting the Assessor's Office. I will listen to why you feel there is a problem with the assessment, and explain my position. I can clear up most problems, but if you are still not satisfied a complaint may be filed with the Mercer County Board of Review.

Q: When I get my tax bill, is it too late to complain
A: In most cases yes, it is too late to appeal for that assessment year, unless you have already filed with the Board of Review. You can always come in and talk with me for the current assessment year.

Q: If I purchase my home for more than it is assessed, will my assessment be increased to the sale price ?
A: Not necessarily. Often amenities are listed by a Realtor that the Assessor has no record of. For example, a finished basement, extra bath, fireplace, or remodeling of your home. The assessment would be increased to reflect the value added by those improvements. Usually, properties are studied in neighborhoods, not individually. There would be a cause for an increase in your assessed value if other sales in your neighborhood are higher than yours. There would be an imbalance created in your neighborhood If the Assessor was to increase individual assessments because of sales.

The following are some of the more commonly asked questions by township property owners. Please feel free to contact us with any others you may need answered.