Tax Redemption FAQs
FAQs for Taxpayers
FAQs for Tax Buyers
FAQs for Taxpayers
- I’m late paying my property taxes. What do I do?
Until those taxes are bought by a tax buyer, you can still make payments at the Lake County Treasurer’s office. But once they are sold, you will have to pay them with the Lake County Clerk instead. Payment of sold taxes is called “redemption.”
The time frame when taxes can be sold will vary:
- If there are no prior years’ sold taxes still owing, the current year’s taxes will be sold at the Treasurer’s delinquent tax sale at the end of November/beginning of December.
- If there are prior years’ sold taxes owing but you have more than six months remaining to redeem them, the tax buyer has the option of buying the current year’s taxes in mid-September and adding them to the redemption total.
- If there are prior years’ sold taxes owing and the deadline to redeem is within six months, the tax buyer can start the legal process to eventually receive the deed to the property. If they have started that process, the tax buyer has the option of buying the current year’s taxes as soon as tax bills are mailed at the beginning of May!
- What is a “tax sale”? What does it mean that my taxes have been sold or that my property has been sold for delinquent taxes?
By state statute, any unpaid taxes plus interest and penalties go to a tax sale at the end of November or beginning of December. A registered tax buyer bids their fee for paying those taxes. The tax buyer’s fee is bid as a percentage of the amount owing, to be applied every six months. Bidding starts at 18% and goes down from there, in some cases to 0%; the County Treasurer must accept the lowest bid. If no tax buyer bids on a property, the County itself becomes the default tax buyer, at 18%.
The tax buyer whose bid is accepted then pays the amount owing in the Treasurer’s office. The taxes paid plus the additional fees are charged in the County Clerk’s office as a tax lien against the property. Additional fees will accrue until the homeowner or another financially interested party redeems them. Upon redemption, the lien is immediately removed and the tax buyer no longer has any vested interest in the property. If no redemption is made within the time allowed (2-3 years, depending on the type of property and the tax buyer’s decision), the tax buyer can petition the Circuit Court for the deed to the property.
The phrase, “your property has been sold for delinquent taxes,” is required by state statute and can be a bit misleading. During the redemption period, you are still the owner of the property. Only your unpaid taxes were sold. It is only after the redemption period expires that the property can change owners.
- How long do I have to pay off sold taxes? Can the final deadline be extended?
- For residential properties of 1-6 units, the final date to redeem is a minimum of 2½ years from the date of the original tax sale.
- For other properties, it is a minimum of 2 years from the date of the original tax sale.
- For all properties, the tax buyer has the option of extending the redemption period up to a maximum of 3 years. Once extended, the tax buyer cannot reduce it.
- How do I find out the amount I now owe?
You can go to LakeSoldTaxes.info for information on the sold taxes for a particular property, including a breakdown of amount owing, next scheduled penalty increase and last date to redeem. That information is updated nightly.
- Whom do I pay? Do I have to pay in person? What forms of payment do you accept?
By state law, payment must be made to “Lake County Clerk” by cashier’s check, bank-certified check, money order or cash. No personal, business, mortgage company or title company checks are allowed.
Payment can be made in person or mailed to the Lake County Clerk, 18 N County Street, Room 101, Waukegan, IL 60085. Redemptions received by mail are processed the day we receive them, and a redemption receipt will be mailed back to you.
- Can I make partial payments or set up a payment schedule?
State statutes do not allow us to receive partial payments or set up payment plans. Payment must be made in full.
- I owe on prior years’ sold taxes and the current year’s tax bill; which should I pay off first?
Warning! If the time is within six months before the last date to redeem previously sold taxes, the tax buyer may subtax the current taxes before September, even on the day the bills are mailed in May!
That is your decision. The County Clerk’s office cannot offer legal advice. Since there is already a tax buyer on your property, that tax buyer does have the option of buying your current year’s taxes when the second installment goes delinquent in September. This is called “subtaxing.”
Subsequent years’ taxes are applied to the redemption total at a 12% annual penalty. Since the Treasurer’s Office is allowed to accept partial payments, any amount you can pay toward the current year’s bill will reduce the amount the tax buyer can buy at 12%.
If you redeem the previously sold taxes, the tax buyer is removed from the property and cannot subtax the current taxes. They will go to tax sale in December and start the whole process over again.
- When will the quoted amount change?
The Estimate of Redemption at LakeSoldTaxes.info shows the next scheduled penalty increase. Penalties are scheduled to increase every six months from the original tax sale, and every year from the date of purchase of any subsequent years’ taxes.
However, there are several costs incurred by the tax buyer that can be added without advance notice. See Charges Accrued During Redemption Process for more information.
- What happens if I can’t pay by the deadline?
Then the tax buyer has the legal right to petition the Circuit Court for the deed to the property and you could lose ownership.
- Who can I talk to about all this?
The Tax Redemption division of the Lake County Clerk’s office is available Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 5:00. You can stop by at any time or call us at (847) 377-2404.
FAQs for Tax Buyers
- What is a “tax buyer”? How do I become one? When is the tax sale? What is the procedure at the tax sale? How do I pay? How do I get my certificate of sale?
For all questions regarding the tax sale and events leading up to it, please visit the Lake County Treasurer’s Tax Sale webpage. You should also be well versed in the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200), especially those sections concerning tax delinquencies (35 ILCS 200/21) and tax deeds (35 ILCS 200/22). The County Clerk’s office cannot provide any legal advice or instruction in being a tax buyer.
- What is the next step after I buy the taxes on a property?
After you have paid the Treasurer the amount owed and received your tax sale certificate, the next step is to prepare and file the initial Take Notice. This needs to be done within 4½ months after the tax sale. You can do it on your own, making sure to abide by the Property Tax Code, or you can authorize the County Clerk’s office to do it for you at no charge.
- What should I do if the subsequent years’ taxes are not paid either?
You can “subtax” them once they are delinquent; that is, you can pay them at the Treasurer’s office, then come to the County Clerk’s office and have them posted to the redemption account at a 12% per year penalty. This can only be done before the next tax sale and after the second installment goes delinquent in September (unless you have already filed the petition for tax deed with the Circuit Court—see #5 below—in which case current year taxes can be subtaxed as soon as bills are mailed in May.
- How do I extend the last date to redeem?
Send a written authorization (e-mail is fine) to the County Clerk’s office, giving the PIN and the date to extend it to. The last date to redeem cannot be extended once it has already passed, unless a Petition for Tax Deed has been filed with the Circuit Court (see #5 below.)
- The end of the redemption period is getting close. What is the procedure for obtaining the deed to the property?
Within the window of 3-6 months before the final date to redeem, you must file a Petition for Tax Deed with the Circuit Court and have final Take Notices mailed, served and published. After the redemption period has expired, you can apply to the Court for an Order Directing Issuance of Tax Deed. Bring that executed Order, the tax sale certificate, the tax deed and $5.00 to the County Clerk’s Office. The County Clerk’s office will verify that the party on the tax deed is the tax buyer on the property, and that all subsequent years’ taxes have been paid, including taxes bought by a different tax buyer. Once we sign off on the tax deed, you can record it with the Recorder’s office for a nominal fee.
- Can I get reimbursed for expenses?
Certain costs can be posted to the redemption account by submitting paid receipts (copies are acceptable) to the County Clerk’s Office; however, no charges can be posted within 1 month of the final date to redeem. Read 35 ILCS 200/21-355 to see which charges can be posted.
- How can I verify whether charges have posted, or what the current redemption balance is?
If you go to LakeSoldTaxes.info you can generate an Estimate of Redemption that will list all taxes, subtaxes, penalties and costs posted to the redemption account.
- How do I know if the taxes have been redeemed?
If you need to know immediately, you can go to LakeSoldTaxes.info to generate an Estimate of Redemption. If one is generated for that PIN, the taxes have not been redeemed. Otherwise you’ll get a message, “No record found for PIN XX-XX-XXX-XXX. If this PIN is correct, there are no sold taxes currently owed on this property.”
On the 1st and 15th of each month, the County Clerk’s office sends out a Tax Buyer Redemption Report listing any property of yours that has been redeemed. If you do not get a report, there are no redeemed properties awaiting tax buyer payout.
- How do I get paid on a property that has been redeemed?
Once that property shows up on the Tax Buyer Redemption Report (see #8 above), you may submit the tax sale certificate for the property, by mail or in person, to the County Clerk’s Office. We will cut a check for the amount shown on the report.
- Do I have to pay income tax on any of this?
The only part of your redemption payout subject to income tax is the accrued penalty—the percent you bid at the tax sale or the 12% per year for subtaxes (see #3 above). This will be treated as interest income. At the beginning of the following year, you will receive a 1099-INT form from the County Clerk’s office, to use in your income tax return preparation.