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Real Estate Transfer Tax Transaction

  • In person purchase of the stamp is permitted with advance notice from 8am-4:30pm, M-F, at the Municipal Services Building, 800 N Field Dr. Please let us know you are coming - email
  • Acceptable forms of payment include wire transfer, cash or cashier’s/attorney/real estate agent/title company check payable to the City of Lake Forest.
  • Arrangements can be made to send the stamp via FedEx/UPS when a prepaid label is provided.
  • Exempt Stamps: Please submit a completed City Exempt Declaration, copy of deed and $50 check payable to the City of Lake Forest. This can be placed in the Municipal Services Building drop box, 800 N Field Dr. or mailed, FedEx/UPS, attention Crystal Edwards, to the same address with a return envelope or prepaid label. The stamp may also be arranged for pick up if necessary.


On March 21, 2006, Lake Forest voters approved a referendum that allowed the City to impose a Real Estate Transfer Tax on the sale of real estate within the City. Revenues generated from the transfer tax fund infrastructure improvements (repairs to streets, sewers, bridges, etc.) that would otherwise be postponed or eliminated. The Lake Forest City Council believes that well-maintained streets, sewers, etc. help support and preserve community character and property values.

The Lake Forest City Council approved an ordinance specifying that the tax be applied as follows:

• The transfer tax be levied on the buyer of any residential or commercial real estate in The City of Lake Forest. See Purchasers of Real Estate.

• The transfer tax be imposed on all transactions which close on or after July 5, 2006.

• A refund of the transfer tax owed in an amount up to $2,000 will be given to Lake Forest residents who move between residences within Lake Forest within a 1 year period. 
  See Transfer Tax Refund.

• Individuals refinancing their home or changing a name on their deed must apply for an exemption stamp. See Exempt Transactions.

Purchasing Real Estate in Lake Forest

When purchasing real estate in Lake Forest, a number of steps must be taken before the transfer tax stamp can be issued. A  Seller/Buyer checklist has been developed to provide a quick overview of actions required by the buyer and seller.

• The Buyer will need to pay the transfer tax.

• Prior to closing, the Buyer must complete a Real Estate Transfer Tax Declaration Form and pay the required tax due.

• The PTAX-203 Illinois Real Estate Transfer Declaration Form must also be submitted with the City of Lake Forest Declaration.  This form is generally completed by the seller's attorney.

• A Copy of the Deed is also required to be submitted with the City of Lake Forest Declaration.

• The Tax must be paid with cash or certified funds (payable to The City of Lake Forest), We will also accept an Attorney’s check or Title Company check.

What is the Real Estate Transfer Tax rate?

The rate is $4.00 per $1,000 of full actual consideration; tax rounded up to the next $5.00, paid by the buyer prior to closing. Levied on residential and commercial real estate transactions at the time of sale, this translates to $3,600 transfer Tax on a property with a $900,000 value.

Transfer Tax Refund

The City Council has determined that a refund of the transfer tax paid in an amount up to $2,000 would be given to Lake Forest residents who purchase and sell a residence within Lake Forest within a 1 year period.

• Lake Forest residents who sell and purchase a residence in Lake Forest within a year can apply for a refund by completing the Real Estate Transfer Tax Refund Form.

• The Taxpayer must occupy the Sold Dwelling/Unit as the Taxpayers principal residence for a least 3 years prior to the sale

• Unless applied for within one year, a refund of the paid Real Estate Transfer Tax will not be given.

• This Form must be notarized and submitted to the Finance Department at the Municipal Services building at 800 N Field Dr. Lake Forest, IL 60045.

• Please allow 4 weeks for processing.

Transfer Tax Exempt Transactions

The City of Lake Forest Real Estate Transfer Tax Ordinance (the "Ordinance") specifically exempts certain transactions from taxation. These exemptions are listed in Sections 39-159 of the City of Lake Forest Code.

• Exempt transactions must complete A Real Estate Transfer Tax Exempt Declaration Form.

• In order to complete the declaration you will need to know what type of exempt transaction for which you are applying for.  This is a complete list of exemptions.

• The Deed will need to be submitted along with the declaration. We will accept either the original or a copy.

• There is a $50.00 minimum tax. This is payable by cash, check,  or credit card.

• Submit the completed Declaration, minimum tax, and the Deed to The Finance Department at Municipal Services, 800 N Field Dr. (8:00am- 4:30pm, Mon - Fri).

• Please allow 2-3 business days for processing after submission of the required documents.

• If submitting by mail please include a self-addressed stamped envelope and any contact information, we will return the Transfer Tax Stamp as soon as it is processed.


For more information regarding Real Estate Purchases, Exempt Transactions and Transfer Tax Refunds please contact Crystal Edwards at 847-810-3618 or email


220 E. Deerpath, Lake Forest, IL 60045
(847) 234-2600
Non-Emergency Police:  (847) 234-2601

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