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What's My Line? - Sunday, January 1, 2012

What does the Assessor do? Does he collect property taxes? No. Does he raise the taxes on my house and property! No. Hey, I know what he does! He is responsible for the tax rates in the Parish! Right? No again. These are just some of the answers I get when I asked that question. So, what does the Assessor do?

The Assessor's job is to value property (houses, business assets and land) as close to fair market value as possible. Now, what is fair market value? Fair market value is the amount that a willing seller decides to accept, in dollars, from a willing buyer in an open and free market. That means, if a buyer is looking to purchase a house that's on the market, he will probably find out how much houses are selling for, in that subdivision, so he can make the best bargain. The same would be true of the seller, he will check around to see what houses are selling for so that he can get as much for his house as possible. This is just like the potato market. Right? No one will pay $1.00/ lb. for potatoes if she knows she can get those same potatoes down the street for $ .50/ lb. Right? (Shake your head up and down because we all know that to be the fact).

Well, if the Assessor values my house and property, then he is the reason my taxes go up? Right! Sorry, but, not really. By law the Assessor must use fair market value. The Assessor cannot use just any number he chooses to. The Assessor's governing authority is the Louisiana Tax Commission, and Assessors must abide by its rules and regulations or may be subject to fines and imprisonment for not doing the job that he was duly elected to do.

Who sets the tax rates? Fortunately or unfortunately, you do. The voters of the Parish do.

Each time the voters are asked to vote on a millage increase, a tax referendum, or a tax proposal, the authorities are asking the voters for permission to raise taxes. These taxes go to whatever taxing authority is asking for an increase in revenue.

All of the money from property taxes go to the different taxing districts to pay for services they render, whether it is schools, libraries, law enforcement, flood protection, recreation, assessment districts, or operation of parish government. These are just some of the taxing districts that exist in St. James Parish.

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

Updated: 11/23/2011


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