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Fischer: Tax Freedom Day only comes once a year

<p>Danielle Gardner / Staff Photographer/Naperville Sun 2009.01.19 Monday, Aurora Studio-- Head Shot of Naperville Sun Business Columnist Bob Fischer</p>

Danielle Gardner / Staff Photographer/Naperville Sun 2009.01.19 Monday, Aurora Studio-- Head Shot of Naperville Sun Business Columnist Bob Fischer

With April 15 safely in the rear view mirror, many of us, I am sure, are relieved to put taxes from our minds — for now. Unfortunately, the coming week holds a few more important dates and reminders from the tax man.

First up is Monday. This day has been deemed by the Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy research organization, as Tax Freedom Day for the state of Illinois. This, thankfully, is not a day requiring filing returns or writing a check. Instead it is a milestone (or, maybe more accurately, millstone) based on a determination of how long residents need to work to cover their federal, state and local burdens.

Not too surprising for those of us who pay to live here, the Illinois recognition is a week later than the average date for the rest of the country. To gauge the pain, we rank No. 7 in the U.S. with $4,658 per capita in state and local taxes over and above the federal burden shared nationwide.

For homeowners, next week will bring even more pain and gnashing of teeth.

On Wednesday, April 30, DuPage County will mail out real estate tax bills. Will County’s annual collection notices will follow on Friday, May 2.

According to the counties’ websites, first installments are due June 2 in Will and June 3 in DuPage. The second installment must be sent in by Sept. 2 in Will and Sept. 3 in DuPage. Keep an eye on your mailbox. According to state law, failure to receive a bill does not relieve the taxpayer of penalties if the payment is late.

One last note on real estate taxes: it’s too late to contest the assessment that led to this year’s bills.

If you think your property is worth less than the taxman does, check with your township assessor for the processes and key dates in your area for appealing your share of next year’s levy. Believe it or not, the assessors are there to help and will walk you through the valuation process, including how to file appeals if necessary.

Needless to say, should you believe that your property is under-assessed, the rest of us would be appreciative if you raised your hand and offered to pay for a bigger slice of the pie next year.

The state legislature has another month until they adjourn to prepare for November elections. This leaves time for more fiscal mischief from Springfield in the form of new and improved (aka increased) taxes.

For both realists and cynics in the audience, the real danger in tax changes lies with the “lame duck” legislature that will convene post-election and do business while hoping that any changes they make will be forgotten two years hence should the incumbents decide to run again.

With some downstate discussions on “fair taxes” — which I think means those paid by someone else — my hope is that this does not lead to our 2015 Tax Freedom Day inching closer to May.

Bob Fischer is president of the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation. Contact him at bobfischer@wowway.com

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