Illinois pays the second highest average rate in property taxes in the country and within Illinois, Lake County residents are forced to pay some of the highest property taxes. State Representative Jesiel, acknowledging the hardships families are facing with rising property taxes despite declining home values, hosted a property tax appeal seminar Tuesday night. Local residents were given the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the steps in appealing their assessments and property tax bill. The event was co-hosted with Benton Township Assessor, Jennifer Litewski, who provided important information about the assessment process. Rep. Jesiel also heard from frustrated residents and gave an update on the efforts in Springfield to freeze and even lower property taxes across the State. 
Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers. Recently, constituents have seen a surge of these phone scams as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other alarming things. Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill to con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email. Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

Protect Yourself
Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam as the IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

  • If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:
  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

For more information on scams and protecting your personal identity, please read through this powerpoint from the Illinois Attorney General's office.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recently announced that it will provide the College Board’s SAT exam at no cost to all public high school juniors during the 2016-17 school year. The SAT will replace the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test as the high school state and federal accountability exam in Illinois. Both the SAT and PARCC tests align with the Illinois Learning Standards, but the SAT provides scores that can be used for college admissions purposes. 

Illinois students have traditionally taken the ACT college entrance exam. However, when deciding which testing company to use, ISBE found that the SAT is more closely aligned with state learning standards and will cost less to administer statewide. 

The decision was heavily influenced by the recent listening tour conducted by ISBE, feedback from school districts, and the state’s current budget climate.
The listening tour and school administrators found overwhelmingly that equitable access to a quality college entrance exam was essential in providing future opportunities to all students. Parents, teachers, and administrators also stressed that the amount of testing time and the number of assessments administered to students need to be reduced. By providing the SAT to all juniors during the school day, instead of PARCC, the state can eliminate redundancy and maximize the value of student testing time.

Elementary and middle school students will continue to take the PARCC assessment. PARCC results provide educators with data that may be used to provide individualized support to students to ensure they are on the right path to succeed in college and careers. 

Chicago, IL… Shortly after the announcement from Governor Rauner about the formation of a bipartisan commission dedicated to reforming the school funding formula, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) was appointed to sit on the committee. The 25 person committee chaired by Secretary of Education, Beth Purvis, will meet monthly and hear from invested, knowledgeable parties from around the state and country. 

“It is an honor to be appointed to serve on what will be an important factor in ensuring a bright future for all children in Illinois,” Rep. Jesiel said. “I look forward to working collaboratively with my colleagues to secure a more efficient and evidence based funding formula that will give every student in Illinois a quality education regardless of zip code. Like Governor Rauner, I am committed to seeing the State do more to support education. We need to fix the formula and creatively devote state resources to help take the burden off of local property tax payers.”

A report from the commission will be presented to the Governor and the Illinois General Assembly by February 1 of next year with the goal of having Springfield take action in time for the 2017-2018 school year.

Late last year Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office would suspend mailing out vehicle registration renewal reminders to the public due to the lack of a state budget. Many Illinois residents have complained about no longer getting the letters and then facing penalties for late sticker-renewal actions. 

Last week the House and Senate voted to waive vehicle sticker delinquent registration renewal supplemental late fees if no warning was mailed. The waiver is only effective if the Secretary of State has not previously mailed a motor vehicle license sticker-renewal notification to the affected motor vehicle owner. 

The supplemental late-fee waiver bill was approved by the House on Thursday, June 30. The House vote on HB 4334, as amended, was 111-0-0. As the Senate had previously approved the final language of the bill, the House vote marked the final legislative step necessary to send the measure to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner for final action.

To sign up for an online renewal reminder, click here.