Second District Appellate Court Defines the Truth in Taxation Law’s Scope

In Mandigo v. Stolman, 2019 IL App (2d) 180466, the Second District Appellate Court held that the Truth in Taxation Law (35 ILCS 200/18-55 et seq.) did not apply to the taxing bodies’ levies because they did not exceed 105% of the previous year’s extension.

Several taxpayers filed tax objection complaints in accordance with the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/1 et seq.) alleging, among other things, that Lake County and Antioch Township failed to comply with the Truth in Taxation Law when they adopted their 2016 property tax levies because they had to document their estimated levies and hold public hearings before adopting them.  But the Second District Appellate Court held that the Truth in Taxation Law did not apply to these levies because the estimated levies did not exceed 105% of the previous year’s extension.  In reaching this conclusion, the court emphasized the plain language of the statute and the clear statements of legislators stating that the Truth in Taxation Law only applies when an estimated levy exceed 105% of the previous year’s levy.  The court also noted that the plain language of the Truth in Taxation Law does not require taxing bodies to create public documents estimating their levies.

Schools may only levy property taxes in accordance with the Property Tax Code and the Truth in Taxation Law.  This case makes clear that schools can rely upon the plain language of these statutes when estimating and adopting their levies.  Thus, the notice and public hearing requirements of the Truth in Taxation Law only apply if a taxing body’s estimated aggregate levy exceeds 105% of its previous year’s levy.  Additionally, taxing bodies are not required to create public documents substantiating their estimated levies.  The taxing bodies here used minimal procedures to estimate their levies; one body relied upon its annual budget while the other only mentioned the estimated levy at a public meeting.  In the court’s view, even these minimal procedures for estimating levies satisfied the Truth in Taxation Law.

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