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Part II --- The Voters - Sunday, January 1, 2012

Last week's article explained the assessor's roll in the property tax system. This week we will look at the part the voter plays in the property tax system.

Yes, I hate to say it, but we the people play quite a large part in the property tax system. We, the voters, decide what services we want and how much we are willing to pay for those services. That's right, schools, law enforcement, parish services, and other stuff, so make sure you pay attention to announcements of proposed millage increases and vote. There was a time when most homeowners didn't pay any property tax because the $75,000 homestead exemption covered or shielded us from paying tax (you heard it before, "yea vote for this millage industry will pay for it”). What has happened in the last 20 years or so, is that the cost of an average home has risen above that $75,000 value, so the amount above the homestead exemption is now taxable and we get to, "pay for it”. Actually the average sales price in St. James Parish in the last 4 years is roughly $136,000 and the tax bill would be $671 at an average tax rate of 110 mills. Mills means thousandths, so if you move the decimal three places to the left, it would look like --- .110 or 11%. Keep in mind that the $75,000 homestead exemption is set by the Louisiana constitution and is subtracted from the "fair market value”. The constitution also allows for the special assessment level freeze to homeowners that are 65 or older, or disabled homeowners that have an adjusted gross income of $67,670 or less for 2012. The freeze is available only on a homeowners homestead property.

As St. James Parish Assessor, I along with several other assessors have lobbied the legislature to raise the homestead exemption, unfortunately with no success. Our efforts get stifled by the legislative committees who fail to bring this measure to the house and senate floor for a vote. It is very important for all taxpayers to call their senator and representative to voice your opinion. I assure you, there will be a bill in next year's session to raise the homestead exemption. Help me to get this bill passed.

Please direct questions to the St. James Parish Assessor's Office.

Updated: 11/23/2011


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