DELINQUENT TAX PROCESS
Each year many property owners pay their real estate taxes late or are unable to pay them altogether. The information below explains how the property tax collection process works in Clinton County.
PRIOR TO THE TAX SALE
The Clinton County Treasurer sends out tax bills to property owners once a year with two installment due dates that are usually in July and September. Payments not received in the County Treasurer’s office or that are not postmarked by the due date are subject to a 1.5% penalty per month, which is in compliance with Illinois State Statues. Tax payments not received by the second installment due date will be considered DELINQUENT and are subject to publication and tax sale. The treasurer is required to send a final notice by Certified Mail to the owner of the record shown in the county tax system before the taxes are sold at tax sale.
The tax sale in Clinton County is held annually in December (month may vary slightly). The “tax buyer” who bids the lowest rate of interest (from 18% down to 0%) pays the County Treasurer’s office the total taxes that were due plus costs associated with the sale and fees. Any questions on Tax Sale procedures and delinquent property lists should be addressed to the Clinton County Treasurer.
PERIOD OF REDEMPTION
Following the tax sale, all records are turned over to the County Clerk for redemption. The property owner or their representative has a minimum of two years from the date of the sale to redeem these taxes before they lose ownership. The tax buyer may, but is not legally obligated to, extend the redemption period for up to three years from the date of the tax sale. For residential properties of one-six units, the minimum period of redemption is 2½ years. For all other properties (commercial, vacant, etc.), the minimum is two years. In either case, the tax buyer can, at their discretion, extend the final date to redeem up to a maximum of three years.
Within 4½ months of the tax sale, the tax buyer is required to mail a notice of the sale (called a “Take Notice”) to the party in whose name the taxes were originally assessed (which may not be the current owner). This process adds the cost of a certified mailing to the redemption total. The mailing will come from the County Clerk’s office.
If your unpaid taxes have been sold, the Clerk’s office can provide you with an Estimate of Redemption, detailing the amount necessary to redeem (pay) your taxes and remove the threat of losing your property. You may simply call the County Clerk’s office to inquire about the amount owed and request an estimate.
The redemption of these taxes must be made in one FULL PAYMENT. State law prohibits accepting partial payments. Payment may only be made by certified funds. The options are cash, cashier’s check, certified check or money order. Checks or money orders should be made payable to the Clinton County Clerk. The parcel ID number should be written on the check. Payments may be made in person or by mail. Once the redemption is satisfied, a receipt will be issued.
In each following year, if the new taxes billed in that subsequent year are not paid, the current tax buyer has the option of buying these taxes after the second installment is deemed delinquent and before the next tax sale. If the tax buyer does so, the current year taxes are added to the redemption total with a 12% per year penalty attached. NOTE: If the tax buyer has petitioned the courts for a tax deed, the tax buyer does not need to wait until the second installment is delinquent. In that situation, the tax buyer has the option of buying the taxes as soon as the tax bill is issued!
COSTS OF TAX DEED PROCESS
Within three to six months before the period of redemption expires, the tax buyer must initiate the legal proceedings to eventually obtain the tax deed. The tax buyer petitions the Circuit Court of the County. Any costs associated with those legal proceedings incurred by the tax buyer can be added to the redemption total at any time (but no later than 1 month before the last date to redeem). As part of the petitioning process, a final “take notice” will be sent to any interested party by Certified Mail. This final take notice advises the parties of the final date to redeem on said property and when a hearing is set in the Circuit Court in order for the tax buyer to take ownership of the property.
AFTER REDEMPTION PERIOD EXPIRES
The tax buyer must appear before the Circuit Court of Clinton County. The owner may be present at this hearing, but the right to redeem will already have expired at that time. The Circuit Court reviews the evidence and must be satisfied that the tax buyer has fulfilled all statutory obligations and that the period of redemption has expired. If the court deems that the tax buyer has fulfilled all the legal obligations, the Court will order the County Clerk to issue a Tax Deed, transferring ownership of the property to the tax buyer.