If you don’t pay your Illinois property taxes, the county collector can get a judgment from the court that allows it to sell off the delinquent tax debt. At the sale, the purchaser effectively buys the existing tax lien and gets a certificate, which acts as evidence of the purchaser’s interest in the property. (Get further details on tax sales in Illinois in What Happens If I Don't Pay Property Taxes in Illinois.)
Luckily, under Illinois law, you’ll get a couple of years after the sale to in which you can pay off the tax debt and keep your home. This is called “redeeming” the property. If you aren't able to redeem, the purchaser (that is, the individual or entity that bought the lien at the sale) can get a tax deed from the court and become the new owner of your property.
Under Illinois law, you typically get two years and six months to redeem your home after the sale, though the redemption period may be different depending on the circumstances (35 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 200/21-350).
Redemption period for abandoned homes. If the property has been abandoned (left vacant), the purchaser can ask the court to reduce the redemption period to two years after the sale date (35 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 200/21-350).
Extended redemption period. The purchaser from the tax sale can choose to extend the redemption period up to three years after the sale (35 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 200/21-385). If the period of redemption is extended, you must redeem on or before the extended redemption date (35 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 200/21-350).
In order to redeem the home, you’ll have to pay (among other amounts):
Even though Illinois law gives you some time after a tax sale to redeem your home, it is usually smart to take action before you become delinquent in paying your property taxes to make them more affordable. For example, you could:
Where to Find Illinois’s Property Tax Sale Laws
To find the statutes that cover property tax sales and redeeming your home after an Illinois tax sale, go to 35 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § § 200/21-5 through 200/21-445 and 200/22-5 through 200/22-95 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.