What Owners of Historic Properties Need to Know About Illinois’ Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program

Oct 6, 2022

Evanston is known for its majestic lakefront and beaches; its entertainment and cultural options, and its business districts filled with restaurants and cafés – after all, we are called the culinary capital of the North Shore – charming boutiques, museums, and entertainment venues covering everything from live theater and concerts to movies and more.

Last but not least, Evanston is known for its stately, historic homes.

Evanstonians love to take walks by their favorite properties. There is a sense of history all over the place, from a house on Ridge where once Lincoln slept to the mansion of a former US Vice President (who was also the songwriter of a pop classic, “It’s all in the Game) to those designed by famous architects. In fact, according to the National Register of Historic Places, Evanston hosts more than sixty historic buildings.

But with all the beautiful, charm, and story value of these historic homes comes a responsibility to maintain and preserve their original detail and legacy. Many homeowners, however, have an ungrounded fear that improving the structure could come at a steep cost – because they could also increase its value, which in turn could then be followed by a steep increase in amount due for property taxes.

But that is not necessarily the case. If you’re the owner of a certified historic structure and you’ll be spending more than 25% of the property’s assessor’s fair market value of the building within a 24-month period, you will want to know about The Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program, a free program run by the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office (IL SHPO).

What Is the Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program?

To encourage the preservation of certified historic buildings in the state of Illinois, the program “freezes the assessed value of a historic, owner-occupied, principal residence for eight years when the owner undertakes a substantial approved rehabilitation.”  (What’s more, the program doesn’t stop your Assessed Value from being lowered during the eight years should property values slide).

Then according to the Department of Natural Resources, your property is slowly brought back to the market value during a span of four more years after the eight years of the freeze.

The benefits of The Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program include:

  • Increasing the value of your individual property
  • Sustainably rebuilding and restoring your home
  • Encouraging the revitalization of your neighborhood
  • Helping preserve the history in your city

This is a free program, but you must apply asap before beginning the construction of a certified property. The property must also meet the standards of The Secretary of Interiors Standards for Rehabilitation and be a single-family, owner-occupied, principal residence; a condominium or a cooperative building; or a residential building with up to six units as long as the building owner resides in a unit.

Check out the FAQ From The Department Of Natural Resources to learn more about the Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program, to see if you qualify, and to discover more about how the program can help you and our Evanston community.

And of course, as your Evanston Experts, we are here to help. If you have a question about the program, we can point you in the right direction for the answer. Simply contact a member of the Jackie Mack & More team. After all, as we’ve said before, we believe that Evanston is a truly special community – and we want to help preserve its charm and help all our neighbors get the most out of the community.

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