Did your home's assessed value (the value the county tax assessor is charging you tax on) continue to increase while your home's value went down during the recession? Many homeowners' values did and I've found that many are not aware that they could save hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars a year by simply protesting the assessed value.
If your home is in Champaign County, here is the link from the assessor's office explaining the procedures (they have not yet updated it for 2014): http://www.co.champaign.il.us/BOR/forms/2013rules.pdf
You can file your objection from July through the September 10th each year. The form is not hard to fill out, but most importantly you will need some ammunition to plead your case. If you recently purchased your home in the past 12 months, you can simply submit documentation of your recent purchase and the Board of Review will typically lower your assessed value (if it was higher) to the purchase price without any argument.
If you haven't recently purchased your home, an appraisal is your strongest case. This will also simplify the process of having to compile all your evidence. The Champaign County Assessor has indicated that an appraisal from a reputable local appraiser, such as Brandow Real Estate Appraisals, is sufficient for them to accept your protest and adjust your assessed value to the appraised value.
Feel free to contact me directly if you have further questions, or are interested in ordering an appraisal. It could be the best financial decision you make this year.