The Supervisor of Assessments office has the responsibility to assess all property in Morgan County, based on Illinois state statutes and Department of Revenue guidelines. Properties are to be assessed at 33.33% of market value, with the exception of farmland and farm buildings. There are several exemptions available to property owners in Morgan County. These exemptions are for homeowners who own their home, reside in the home as their principle residence and are responsible for the payment of property taxes. Rental property, commercial and industrial properties are not entitled to these exemptions.
Residential assessments are based on the square footage of the home, with additions and deductions for amenities not included in the base price. The Illinois Department of Revenue’s Illinois Real Property Appraisal manual is used as a basis for residential assessments. The base cost consists of the square feet of ground area and the story height. The base cost also includes a full basement, central heating system, one full bath, hot water heater, kitchen sink (5 plumbing fixtures) and average interior finish. Additions to the base cost would be for additional bathrooms/plumbing fixture, central air conditioning, fireplace(s), partial brick walls, and finished basement. Other additions include deck, porches and garages. Deductions to the base cost would be for no basement, no central heating system, and/or no plumbing. After calculating the base cost and any additions or deductions depreciation for the age and condition of the home is applied. Once the depreciated value of the home/improvements is completed the land is valued.
Land is valued as if vacant and available for sale. Land is valued in one of four ways:
- Front Foot Method: Lot Front Feet multiplied by a dollar amount
- Square Foot Method: Lot Square Feet multiplied by a dollar amount
- Acreage Method: Acreage multiplied by a dollar amount
- Site Method: All lots in an area valued the same regardless of size
This value is then added to the depreciated value of the buildings/home to arrive at an estimation of market value. Residential properties are subject to equalization, based on sales studies, by the county as well as the state.
Commercial and Industrial Assessments
Commercial and industrial property assessments are also based on the square footage of the building. The differences are that a Marshall & Swift Commercial Valuation manual is used for these types of buildings, and it is based on the type of structure being valued. There are several different sections in this manual for the valuation of office buildings, medical buildings, fast food restaurants, retail buildings, warehouses and many more. These buildings are also depreciated based on their age and condition to arrive at a depreciated value. Once this is done the land is added to the value to arrive at a market value for the property. The land is valued in the same way as residential property. Commercial and industrial property is subject to equalization by the county as well as the state.
Farmland and Farm Buildings
Farmland and farm buildings are valued based on a different set of criteria than residential or commercial properties. Farm buildings are valued based on the square footage and type of building, depreciated for age and condition, but also adjusted for use and contributory value to the farm. An example of contributory value would be a newer pole building that is not used. This building may have cost $24,000 to construct, but based on its use there is no contributory value and would only carry a value of $300 or a $100 assessment. Farmland is valued differently from other land in the county. Farmland is based on a soil survey broken down into soil types. These soil types are adjusted for slope and/or erosion factors. Each soil is assigned a productivity index by the state of Illinois along with an assessment per acre to be applied. Farmland and farm buildings are not subject to equalization.
Mobile homes are valued and or assessed in multiple ways. The most common assessment or tax value is a privilege tax. A privilege tax is based upon the square foot of the mobile home and the age. Mobile homes in a mobile home park are considered under the privilege tax rules. The privilege tax is separate from property tax and not subject to equalization. Mobile homes resting/sitting on piers with no permanent foundation are assessed/taxed in this manner. Mobile homes may also be assessed and taxed as real estate if they are resting or attached to a permanent foundation, such as a basement, poured concrete foundation or concrete blocks. In this instance the mobile home is subject to equalization the same as a residential frame or brick homes. Properties with mobile homes assessed as real estate would be eligible for exemptions the same as frame or brick homes.
Beginning January 1, 2011 a new law concerning mobile home assessments will go into effect. This change affects mobile homes not in a registered park. The change requires all mobile homes to be assessed as real estate. Mobile homes currently being taxed under the privilege tax laws will stay that way, unless there is a change in ownership. New mobile homes located outside of a mobile home park will be required to be assessed as real estate.
Equalization is the process of applying factors or multipliers to properties in a given area to bring the level of assessments up/down to the statutory level of 33.33%. The equalization process uses the 3 previous years of sales to calculate this factor/adjustment. The use of 3 years is to minimize large increases or decreases in assessment due to fluctuations in market conditions. The sales from these years are compared to the previous year assessment to arrive at a ratio or percentage of assessment. The use of these studies is to allow the assessor’s office to adjust areas within the county which are under or over assessed based on the sales, without adjusting the entire county. These ratios are then arranged in descending order to compute the median or middle ratio. This ratio represents the median level of assessments for a given area. The ratio is then adjusted up or down to adjust the level to 33.33% of market value. The Supervisor of Assessments office does a study of these sales as well as the Department of Revenue.
Property owners have an opportunity to appeal the assessment on their property on a yearly basis. The Supervisor of Assessment’s office publishes a list of assessment and sends out assessment notices on a yearly basis. The publication includes properties which have had an assessment change (other than equalization) from the previous year. The publication typically is done the last week of December, based on state statutes. Property owners have 30 days from the date of the publication to file an appeal on the assessed valuation of their property. The appeal must be filed with the Supervisor of Assessment’s office on or before the 30th day. The appeal must give a reason for the appeal, and evidence as to why the assessment is incorrect. There are various ways to file a successful appeal. The appeal may be based on a recent sale of the property, recent sales of comparable properties, recent appraisal or comparable property assessments. The assessor’s office will review your property record card to ensure the accuracy of the information and could possibly make adjustments if inaccuracies are found.
Once the appeal has been filed, the Board of Review will review the appeal and related information to determine if an adjustment is needed. The board of review will then send out a proposed change notice to the property owner. It will state the previous assessment and the change if any made by the board. If the property owner is not satisfied with the changes made by the board, they can call to schedule a formal hearing before the board of review. The board will review the property along with any new information submitted by the appellant along with listening to the appellant’s claims at this hearing. Once the hearings are completed the Board of Review will send out final assessments changes and close the books.
Board of Review
The Board of Review is made up of the 3 County Commissioners, along with the Supervisor of Assessment who serves as the clerk. The Board of Review accepts appeals for 30 days after the publication of assessments each year, typically in late December.
Property Tax Appeal Board
Property owners who are still not satisfied with the decision by the board of review would then have the option to appeal to the State Property Tax Appeal Board. The forms for a PTAB appeal are available in the assessor’s office. This appeal must be filed within 30 days of receipt of the final decision notice.
Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIF)
Tax Increment financing districts are set up by local governments to aid property owners in renovation of existing properties and aid economic development. There are 3 TIF districts in Morgan County, 2 in Jacksonville, and one in Meredosia. Contact you local city/village hall for more detailed information regarding these areas.
Enterprise Zones are areas in which tax abatements are given to property owners who improve there properties. The abatements vary based on the type of property. Typically Commercial/Industrial properties have a longer abatement time than Residential properties. There is one Enterprise Zone in Morgan County, this is in Jacksonville. Contact the city hall for more information.