Created March 4, 1837 Welcome to Stephenson County, Illinois! Welcome to Stephenson County, Illinois!
Treasurer
Sales Tax Rates
E-Pay Taxes Online
Tax Rates by District
Undeliverable Taxbills
Example Tax Distribution
Sample Tax Bill
Tax Sales
PTELL Information
Delinquent Tax Sales
Scavenger Tax Sales
Property Tax Cycle
Freedom of Information Act
Records - FOIA
Organizational Chart
Investment Policy
Monthly Financial Reports
Forms & Publications
Links
Contact Us

FAQs

Q.
What are the hours for the Treasurer's office?
A.
The normal office hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On major holidays the office is closed.
Q.
How do I pay my tax bill?
A.
  • Mail your tax bill and payment to
    Adrienne Becker
    Stephenson County Treasurer
    50 W. Douglas St., Suite 500
    Freeport, IL 61032
  • You may pay in person at Stephenson County treasurer Adrienne Becker ís office, located at
    Stewart Centre
    Fifth Floor
    50 W. Douglas St., Suite 500
    Freeport, IL 61032
  • For your convenience, any bank in Stephenson County will accept property tax payments.
  • Fill out the online forms at Illinois E-PAY.
Q.
Can I use my credit card for payment?
A.
You may pay with either a Master Card, American Express, VISA or Discover Card in the Treasurerís Office over the phone. Visa Debit Cards are also accepted. There is a flat rate convenience fee of $3.95 for Visa Debit only. Credit card transactions are charged a convenience fee based on the amount of the payment. This information may be viewed at https://www.illinoisepay.com/epay/FeeSchedule?schedule=AchDirect.
Q.
If I pay by mail, do you honor the postmark?
A.
Yes, as long as the postmark is made by the post office, and not by a metered postal machine, because the machine's date can be altered. The payment must be dated by midnight of the due date in order to avoid penalty costs.
Q.
Why do tax rates vary so within Stephenson County?
A.
  • There are many tax code districts within this county.
  • Every parcel of property is located within the boundaries of a specific combination of taxing bodies.
  • The tax rate varies because the number of taxing bodies attached to each parcel varies.
Q.
How many tax bills does your office send out?
A.
  • Over 26,000 tax bills are sent to property owners for Stephenson County
  • One tax bill is mailed out for both installments of the real property tax in the month of May or June
  • The two equal installments are due in June or July and September
Q.
I never received my tax bill. What should I do?
A.
If you did not receive a tax bill during the month of May or June, or if you lose your bill, a computer print-out of the essential information contained on the missing printed version of the bill can be provided by the Treasurer's Office. Caution: Failure to receive your tax bill does not void the tax or prevent the addition of penalties and costs.
Q.
What if I have my bill, but lost my perforated payment stubs?
A.
The proper account can easily be credited if the property code or parcel ID number is written on the payment check.
Q.
The address on my bill is wrong; how do I change it?
A.
We require a signature on file for a change of address. The back of your tax bill is a convenient "Change of Address Form." You may fill it out and return it to us either with your tax payment or separately. As an alternative, we can either fax or mail you a form so that you may send us the necessary information. Your signature assures us that we are not responding to a deceptive request.
Q.
Can I make a partial payment on my bill?
A.
Illinois law will not allow us to accept partial payments. If you mail us a partial payment, we will return it to you.
Q.
Have I applied for my owner occupancy exemption for the coming year?
A.
The Chief County Assessment Office, 815-235-8260, has the responsibility for a variety of exemptions, legal descriptions, mapping, and address clarifications, as well as the filing of assessment complaints. Contact that office for assistance on all of those particular matters.
Q.
I bought my house last September. Why do I have to pay a tax bill for a whole year?
A.
  • Property is taxed, not individuals.
  • Tax bills are payable on the prior year's assessment, and taxes are due for a full calendar year.
  • Prorating of the tax bill between the buyer and the seller, based on the length of ownership of property, is generally done at the time the property changes hands and written into the contract.
  • The current owner is liable for the entire tax amount due.
Q.
How does my mortgage company know what my property taxes are?
A.
Many mortgage companies have contracts with one of the national tax service firms. These organizations do research to match property code numbers with tax amounts. The mortgage company sends each county a payment file, accompanied by a single check, to pay the real estate taxes of all properties on which it holds funds in escrow for that purpose.
Q.
Why don't I just have my tax bill sent to my mortgage company?
A.
You would then miss notices sent out regarding assessment changes, exemption renewals, notice of unpaid taxes and tax sale, as well as the tax bill itself. If in doubt whether you need to forward your bill for payment, contact your mortgage holder.
Q.
My mortgage company and I both paid the taxes due on the same installment. Will you send the double payment back to me?
A.
Our practice is to return the second payment to the sender of that payment. We are not able to arbitrate disagreements between payers, and we ask the parties involved to decide who is entitled to the refund.
Q.
I refinanced my mortgage recently. If there is a mix-up and my taxes aren't paid on time, how will I know?
A.
In September, before any delinquent taxes are sent to the October tax sale, certified letters are sent to owners informing them of the dates and penalties involved regarding any current unpaid taxes. A notification is also published in a local newspaper.
Q.
My mortgage company holds money in escrow to pay my property taxes. If they pay them late, who is responsible to pay penalties or late fees because of that?
A.
When lenders hold money in escrow for property tax payments, it is their obligation to pay the taxes on time, and for the appropriate amount. In cases where a mistake is made, the lender is responsible for all penalties and fees incurred. These fees are to come out of their corporate account, not the escrow account in their keeping.
Q.
What if, for some reason, I have to pay my taxes late?
A.
  • After the due date, a late penalty is added at the rate of 1.5% per month.
  • This penalty is not prorated.
  • The exact amount of the penalty can be learned by a call to our office at 235-8264.
Q.
What if, for some reason, I am altogether unable to pay my taxes?
A.
At the end of October, since all property taxes in the county must be paid each year, delinquent taxes are offered at a tax sale. At this time, tax buyers bid for the opportunity to pay delinquent taxes, and acquire a lien on the property. This lien must be paid back to the tax buyer at whatever rate of interest the successful bidder established in his or her winning bid. After the tax sale, which ends the annual tax cycle, all records of delinquent taxes move to the County Clerk's Office (815-235-8289). That office must be contacted for information on the redemption amounts of sold taxes.
Q.
Will I lose my property?
A.
No, a lien has been put on your property. Eventually it could lead to the loss of your home, but only if you made no efforts to clear the tax lien for over two years.
Q.
How is my fair share of taxes determined?
A.
An equitable assessment of a parcel's value is one important part of the process to establish the appropriate real estate tax on a piece of property. For tax purposes, the value of each property on January 1 of the taxable year is used. The assessors use a numerical equalization formula to make sure all properties within the county are uniformly assessed at one-third of the fair market value. That amount becomes the property's taxable value, except in situations where that property holder is eligible for credits or exemptions.* In that circumstance those amounts are subtracted from the assessed value, which then establishes a new and lower taxable value.

The other and equally important part of the determination of a property's real estate tax is the tax rate. Tax rates vary among the 96 tax districts within the county, since each parcel of property lies within the boundaries of several taxing bodies. Tax rates are calculated by the Tax Extension Division of the County Clerk's Office for each individual taxing district. This is accomplished by dividing the amount of money (the levy) that the taxing units of local government (school, forest preserve, township, county and so on) budget to raise from property taxes, by the tax base for that jurisdiction. All of these determinations are of course subject to legal limits.

With the taxable value of each property established, and the tax rate determined through the actions of the many taxing bodies, it becomes possible to calculate the real estate property tax on all of the 26,000 parcels. The tax rate is multiplied against the taxable value of each parcel of real estate to arrive at the property tax. To calculate the exact dollar and cents amount of the tax, or to check the accuracy of your tax bill, you must remember to move the decimal point of the tax rate two places to the left, since the rate is based on hundreds.

* Owner Occupied Exemption, Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption, Senior Citizen Freeze, Homestead Improvement Exemption, Disabled Veteran Exemption and 4 others Note: In general, properties owned by the US Government, State of Illinois, Stephenson County, Municipalities, School Districts, Churches and 501(c)(2) and 501(c)(3) Charitable Organizations are exempt from payment of property taxes.
Q.
Well, what should I do if I don't think the assessed value given to my property is accurate?
A.
In that case, call the Chief County Assessment Office to talk over the matter with them.

HOME | CONTACT US | LEGAL DISCLAIMER | © Stephenson County 2014