Tax Redemption Process
After delinquent taxes are sold at a tax sale, those sold taxes must be repaid (“redeemed”) in order for the current owner not to lose ownership of the property. The County Clerk’s Office administers the redemption process.
Timeline of Redemption Process
- June-November: Taxes go delinquent
- The County Treasurer’s Office collects payments on taxes billed in the current year.
- End of November/Beginning of December: Tax sale: Any remaining unpaid taxes, with accrued interest and fees, are sold at a one-day tax sale. Tax buyers bid their “service” fee for paying the taxes, with the lowest bid winning. This fee is a percent of the taxes sold, and will be added to the balance at the tax sale and every six months thereafter. Bids range from a maximum 9% every six months to 0%. If no one bids on a property, Lake County, as trustee for the taxing districts involved, becomes the default tax buyer at 9% every six months. After the tax sale, the County Treasurer turns over responsibility for collection to the County Clerk.
- 2-3 Years Following Tax Sale: Period of redemption: Following the tax sale, the property owner (or other financially vested party) has a period of time to redeem the taxes before they could lose ownership. For residential properties of 1-6 units, the minimum period of redemption is 2½ years. For all other properties (commercial, vacant, etc.), the minimum is 2 years. In either case, the tax buyer can, at their discretion, extend the final date to redeem up to a maximum of 3 years.
- After Redemption Period Expires: Tax buyer obtains deed to the property. The Circuit Court reviews the evidence and must be satisfied that the tax buyer has fulfilled all statutory obligations and the period of redemption has expired. The Court orders the County Clerk to issue a Tax Deed, transferring ownership of the property to the tax buyer. This same procedure takes place if Lake County, as trustee, is the tax buyer.
- After Tax Deed Issued: County of Lake, Trustee sells “green book” properties: Any properties for which Lake County, as trustee, takes title are entered in our “green book”—a list of all County-owned properties available for sale. Each property is listed with a minimum recommended bid, based on the assessed value of the parcel. Sealed bids are held for 30 days before being opened. The County Clerk will issue a Quit Claim Deed to the party whose bid is accepted. Green book properties are sold on an “as-is” basis, with no guarantees of any kind made by the County Clerk’s Office.
Charges Accrued During Redemption Process (pursuant to State Statute)
County Treasurer charges (before tax sale)
- Interest: Interest accrues at 1½% per month for any portion not paid on time.
- Final notice: The Treasurer’s Office sends out final notices before the tax sale, which adds a $10 charge to the account.
- Cost of tax sale: Various charges related to the tax sale totaling $94 are added immediately before sale.
Redemption charges (after tax sale)
- Redemption Fee: A fee of $63 is added to cover redemption-associated County Clerk costs.
- Tax Buyer Bid Penalty: Whatever percentage the winning (lowest) bidder bids at the tax sale, that amount is applied immediately and every six months thereafter.
- Initial “Take Notice” Fee: 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 a mailing fee based on current postage prices.
- Subsequent Taxes: 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 deed process has been started (see below), 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 bills are mailed in May!
- Costs of Tax Deed Process: Within 3-6 months before the period of redemption expires, the tax buyer must initiate the legal proceedings to eventually obtain the tax deed. 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). These charges often add up to over $1,000.
How to Redeem Sold Taxes
- Amount of payment: You can look up the current Estimate of Redemption here. Redemption must be made in one payment (no partial payments or payment plans allowed).
- Kinds of payments accepted: Redemption must be made in the form of a cashier’s check, a bank certified check, a money order or cash. No personal, business, mortgage company or title company checks will be accepted. Checks or money orders should be made payable to “Lake County Clerk.”
- Where to pay: Redemption can be made by mail or in person to:
Lake County Clerk
18 N County St, 6th Floor
Waukegan, IL 60085
Submit the payment and the parcel’s PIN (Permanent Index Number, the property’s ten-digit identifier in the form of xx-xx-xxx-xxx). No other documentation is needed.
- What happens next?
The tax buyer’s unrecorded lien on the property is immediately removed upon payment, and a receipt is issued to the payer. The tax buyer is notified of the payment and submits their certificate of tax sale to the County Clerk’s Office, who pays them the amount of redemption minus the $63 redemption fee.