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The entire property tax system relies on many different parts to run smoothly. If there are delays at any point in the process, those delays cause a domino effect on the rest of the actions that must occur.
The first step in the process is the completion of trending and assessments, which culminate with the submission of a ratio study. The ratio study is basically a comparison between sales and assessed values in the county to ensure that market values are being used to determine assessed values. Typically, these should be submitted to the Department and approved in the May/June time frame, the year prior to tax billing.
Once the Department approves the ratio study, the assessor sends the gross assessed values to the county auditor. This should be done by July 1. Then, the county auditor applies exemptions, deductions and abatements to determine the net assessed values - the values upon which tax rates are based. The certified net assessed values are statutorily due to the Department by August 1 - again, the year prior to tax billing.
The Department can begin processing a county's budget and calculating preliminary rates once the certified net assessed values are submitted and the local budgets are adopted (November 1 deadline). The preliminary budgets and rates are then sent to the county taxing units. There is a ten-day window during which the units can comment on this preliminary information and make corrections to information used to calculate the rates. After the review window has expired, the Department will hold a local, public budget hearing, during which anyone can comment on or object to the preliminary rates.
Once the public hearing has taken place, the Department can issue the budget order and tax rates. Statutorily, this must be completed by February 15 (the year of tax billing). The Department can certify final rates and issue a final budget order within days of a budget hearing, depending on what action, if any, comes from the public hearing.
Individuals can keep up to date on where a county is in the process by viewing the Status Maps