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Property Tax Assessment Freeze

The Historic Residence Assessment Freeze Law and its administrative rules provide that the assessed value of historic, owner-occupied, principal residences can be frozen for eight years followed by a four-year step-up period if their owners undertake sensitive and substantial rehabilitations. This program is administered free of charge to Illinois homeowners.​

Download a one-page program summary

Benefits

  • Rewards owner-occupants for sensitively reinvesting in their historic homes by freezing rehabilitated properties' assessed values for eight years followed by a four-year period during which the assessed values step up to their then-current levels
  • Increases the value of the rehabilitated property
  • Strengthens a community's neighborhoods and housing stock
  • Encourages landmark protection through the promotion, recognition, designation, and rehabilitation of historic structures

Provisions

  1. The building must be owner-occupied and the owner's principal residence at the end of the project. The following housing types can qualify:
    1. Single-family house
    2. Residential building with up to six units as long as the building owner resides in one of the units
    3. Condominium building
    4. Cooperative
  2. The building must be "historic." For the assessment freeze program, a "historic" building is considered to be:
    1. individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places in any community in Illinois, or
    2. a contributing property within a National Register Historic District in any community in Illinois, or
    3. a designated landmark in an Illinois community whose preservation ordinance has been approved for the assessment freeze program, or
    4. a contributing property within a local historic district in an Illinois community whose preservation ordinance has been approved for the assessment freeze program.
      • As of April 2021, the preservation ordinances of the following local governments have been approved for the assessment freeze program: Aurora, Belleville, Belvidere, Berwyn, Bloomington, Blue Island, Carbondale, Centralia, Champaign, Charleston, Chicago Heights, Chicago, Crystal Lake, DeKalb, Downers Grove, Edwardsville, Elgin, Elmhurst, Evanston, Galesburg, Geneva, Glen Ellyn, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Hinsdale, Jacksonville, Joliet, Kane County, Kankakee County, Kendall County, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Lemont, Lockport, Lombard, Macomb, Marengo, Maywood, McHenry County, Moline, Morrison, Mount Carroll, Murphysboro, Normal, Oak Park, O'Fallon, Orland Park, Oswego, Park Ridge, Peoria, Plainfield, Quincy, River Forest, Rock Island, Rockford, Rockton, Springfield, St. Charles, Urbana, Washington, West Chicago, Will County, Wilmette, Winnetka, and Woodstock.
  3. The building must be rehabilitated in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.
  4. The rehabilitation's eligible expenses must equal or exceed 25% of the assessor's pre-rehab, fair-cash value of the property and must be incurred within a 24-month period, unless an extension is requested and granted.

Determine whether the tax assessment freeze is right for you and your project.

  • To determine whether your property is "historic," you can:
    • Contact your local landmarks commission. Many of Illinois' Certified Local Governments have preservation ordinances that are also approved for the assessment freeze. 
    • If your building is within the City of Chicago, consult Chicago's Zoning and Land Use Map. Chicago Landmarks are displayed by default, but you must turn on the National Register layer by opening the map legend and clicking on the "National Register" section.
    • If your building is outside the City of Chicago, contact the Illinois SHPO National Register staff at 217-785-4324 to determine if it is on the National Register.
  • Determine whether your rehab may qualify for the assessment freeze. 
    • Refer to your assessor's website or your property-tax bill to find the assessor's "Fair Cash Value" or "Fair Market Value" or "Estimated Property Value" of your property (house + land) for the year you started or plan to start your rehabilitation.
    • Decide whether the cost of your anticipated work will exceed 25% (or 1/4) of the assessor's Fair Cash Value of your property for the year the project began. Eligible expenses are those costs spent on the existing building. See our Freeze FAQ's for more information.
    • Contact SHPO at SHPO.Freeze@illinois.gov or call the Tax Incentives Manager at 217-524-0276 to discuss whether your work may meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. We highly recommend you contact us early in the design process and prior to beginning work to ensure your project meets the Standards. Our review differs from your local landmarks review. We review all interior and exterior work and will require retention and repair of street-visible historic windows (if they exist).
    • Work that occurs before our approval is at your own risk. We strongly advise getting our approval of the work before you begin construction.
    • Applications must be submitted to us within 24 months of the last qualified rehabilitation expenditure.
    • Our page of Frequently Asked Questions explains some of the details of the program and how it works.
  • Once a tax freeze is in place, it does not transfer from one owner to a new owner; however, a person or company may submit and receive approval on Parts 1 and 2 of the Application and perform the work as approved. After construction is completed, the "flipper" can sell the property and provide the new owner with a completed but unsigned Part 3 form and all the required documentation. If the new owner lives in the property as his or her primary residence, signs and submits the Part 3, and receives our approval, then the new owner-occupant will receive the assessment freeze on the property.

How to apply