Election season is also the time for county treasurers to try to recoup unpaid property taxes. When property taxes go unpaid, Illinois counties rely on outside buyers to pick up the tab.
Lee County Treasurer John Fritts says it’s how his county stays afloat.
“The left hand has to take in all the real estate tax money. The right hand has to distribute it out. To finish up your tax year, you have a tax sale, and then we have a trustee who the county has employed to handle everything the tax buyers don’t buy.”
- Lee County Treasurer John Fritts
After the tax sale, property owners have 30 months to pay their overdue taxes with the interest. If they don’t pay by then, the buyer gets the deed to the property.
Lawrence Bruckner travels to area tax auctions and places dozens of bids:
“I rationalize it in my mind because the county needs the money. Really, this is a stick to get everyone to pay their taxes. ”
- Lawrence Bruckner
Crundwell Property Not Part of Sale
This sale did not include 4 properties belonging to former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell. On the day of the sale, Fritts received a court order that he could not sell her property.
Duke Energy Pays Late
Fritts says the county has received payment from Duke Energy, which owns a electrical generation plant in Dixon. In October, the company asked the county to waive interest fees on the money it owed in late property taxes. Several Lee County board members were critical of the request.
How is a Tax Sale Conducted?
- The sale is similar to a reverse auction.
- Registered tax buyers bid a percentage rate with a maximum of 18%.
- Succeeding bids offer a lower interest rate.
- The tax buyer offers the lowest bid to win.
- The homeowner/property owner has a period of 30 months to redeem (buy back) their taxes.
- Registered tax buyers make a profit from the interest earned.
- The interest earned depends on the length of time it takes for homeowners/property owners to redeem their taxes.