Purpose of Assessments
The assessment process plays an important role in local government. Equitable assessments assure the property owners that they are paying their fair share of taxes. Funds generated by property taxes are used to operate schools, provide police and fire protection, construct and maintain roads, and many other necessary services.
The Assessment Process
The assessment process involves discovering and gathering information about properties, determining property values, analyzing the values to insure that they meet the standards of fair assessment, and certifying the entire assessment roll to the appropriate taxing authorities. The first step in the assessment process is to gather information about properties.
Data on ownership, location, use, sales, building measurements, construction type, income production, and costs are collected. Primary sources for this data are deeds, subdivision maps, building permits, declarations filed by the owners of income producing personal property, and appraiser field visits to gather land and building characteristics. Once data is collected, it is analyzed to determine its accuracy and equitability to assure uniformity. The assessment is then calculated from the final estimate of value.
State law requires that residential properties, including mobile homes, be assessed at 10% of their fair market value. This percentage of value is listed on the tax roll as an assessment. Thus a $100,000 residential property would have an assessment of $10,000.
The classification of property determines the percentage of fair market value applicable to each for the purpose of determining assessed valuation. The classifications and percentages are as follows:
|Public Service Property||25%|
All property is to be assessed by the assessor at fair market value using these three approaches to value: market approach, income approach, or cost approach, except for public service properties, i.e. utilities, railroads, etc., which values are determined and rendered by the Louisiana Tax Commission.
New construction, residential or commercial, which was not completed by January 1st of the year, is not immediately assessed and will not appear on the tax rolls until the following tax year.
It is important to note that the Assessor does not perform appraisal services for the public. If you are in need of an appraisal on property, please contact a professional appraiser or real estate agent.
Transfer of Ownership
Records of property conveyance which are filed on public record with the Webster Parish Clerk of Court are automatically retrieved by the Assessor periodically. The transfer of property on the tax roll into the new owner's name will usually take place approximately within a month. If there is some sort of defect in the deed which prevents the property from legally being transferred, the ownership will remain in the former owner's name on the tax roll, i.e. – seller failed to sign the deed, two witnesses did not attest, or the document was not notarized, etc.
Once the tax roll has been produced for the tax year (usually around the first of October), and the property sells a month prior to or after that date, the tax bill will generally appear in the former owner's name and the bill will be mailed to that address. In some cases, the taxes have been prorated for the year by the seller and buyer at the time of closing, and payment for taxes are held in escrow by the mortgage or lending institution. If the taxes have not been prorated at the time of sale, the new owner is legally responsible for all property taxes due for the year.
Access to Records
Access to the assessor's public records is welcomed. Copies of assessments and land owner plats may be obtained upon request. Any change concerning your property should be reported. Information of new construction, the addition or removal of a mobile home or structure, and address changes are essential to an accurate tax roll.
All property subject to taxation is revalued and reassessed at intervals of not more than four years, unless otherwise mandated by the Louisiana Tax Commission, except for personal property, which is revalued and reassessed every year.
The assessment rolls are open for public inspection each year for a period of 15 days, beginning no earlier than August 15 and ending no later than September 15. Notice of the dates, time and place of this public exposure of assessments is published twice in the official journal within a period of not sooner than 21 days prior nor later than 7 days prior to the 15 calendar day period of exposure.
During this period of public exposure, any taxpayer who disagrees with his/her assessment, after review by the assessor, must be provided a “Notice of Appeal Request for Board of Review” form. The Webster Parish Police Jury will sit as a Board of Review to hear all taxpayer appeals. If the assessor's value is upheld by the Board of Review, the Louisiana Tax Commission will then consider the appeal of any taxpayer or assessor dissatisfied with the determination of the Board of Review.
Changes to the tax roll to correct for errors and omissions are submitted by the assessor by request to the Louisiana Tax Commission and are subject to approval or denial. Upon acceptance by the tax commission a change order is issued to the assessor and tax collector(s) correcting the assessment as it appears on the tax roll.
Claims for Taxes Paid in Error
Any taxpayer who has a claim against a political subdivision for ad valorem taxes erroneously paid, may present such claim to the Louisiana Tax Commission within three years of the erroneous payment. The claim shall first be reviewed by the assessor and conferred by the tax collector.
Tax Sales/Adjudicated Property
Any property with outstanding taxes owed, both parish and/or municipal, is subject to an annual public sale held by the authorized tax collector. Any property not purchased by individuals through the public sale, is then adjudicated to the governing authority. These sales are held by the parish and municipal tax collectors, who publish a list of the tax debtors and notice of the upcoming tax sale, several times in a local newspaper. The delinquent property owner has three to five years from the date of the tax purchase to redeem the property by paying all of the outstanding property taxes to date, penalties and interest. It is important to note, that the assessor does not the collect taxes, nor do they keep a list of properties subject to impending tax sales. Only, after such sales have taken place that the assessor either transfers the properties to the new tax sale owner or to the adjudicated property roll. The parish tax sale is held by the Webster Parish Sheriff the third Wednesday of each May, which will include all delinquent parish taxes and delinquent taxes for the municipalities for which they collect. Please contact the respective tax collectors for more information as to the date and time of their tax sale.
The Louisiana State Constitution provides for the exemption of resident homeowners to the extent of a $7,500 assessed valuation ($75,000 home) or 160 acres of land. The homestead exemption is applied toward parish taxes. City and municipal taxes are not exempt. The main requirement to apply for homestead is to maintain your property as your sole place of residency, and you do not claim a homestead exemption on any other property. Permanent homestead exemption has been available since 1982. Once you sign an application for homestead, the exemption will remain in force for as long as you reside on the same property. Mobile home owners are also allowed this exemption, even though they may not own the land on which the mobile home is located. If you acquire additional property at a later date, which property adjoins and is maintained as a part of your residence property, an additional homestead exemption must be applied for. The limitation of $7,500 of assessed value or 160 acres can not be exceeded. Application for Homestead Exemption can be made between January 1st and December 31st of the tax year.
Homestead Exemption can be allowed on the following properties:
- Resident owner.
- Surviving spouse occupant.
- Resident property acquired through donations with usufruct reservation.
- Resident property acquired through a trust (revocable and irrevocable) where beneficiary was immediate prior owner and had previously qualified for homestead.
- Resident property held in indivision by multiple owners only to the extent of the percentage owned by the occupant.
- Resident property being purchased through Bond for Deed only if acquired prior to June 20, 2003.
Extended Homestead Exemption for Qualifying Veterans
Beginning in the year 2012, property receiving the homestead exemption which is owned and occupied by a veteran with a service-connected disability rating of 100% by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, may be exempt from ad valorem taxation for up to a maximum of 15,000 assessed value of property. The surviving spouse of a deceased veteran with a service-connected disability rating of 100% shall be eligible for this exemption if the exemption was in effect on the property prior to the death of the veteran and as long as the surviving spouse remains the owner and resides on the property. If the property eligible for the exemption has an assessed value in excess of 15,000 dollars, ad valorem property taxes shall apply to the assessment in excess of that amount. The extended exemption will only apply to the year which the application is made and thereafter. Veterans who may qualify should bring to the assessor's office a copy of the declaration page stating their disability from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. For further details, please contact our office.
Special Assessment Level Freezes
The Special Assessment Level Freeze will freeze the assessed value of owner-occupied residential property at its current level, and will not be subject to future reassessments. The freeze can only be applied to property which Homestead Exemption is being received. It is important to note that the special assessment freeze applies to the assessed valuation only, and not to the millage rate, which is subject to change. If improvements are made to the property in excess of 25% of the value, or the owner's adjusted gross income exceeds the maximum level, the freeze is terminated. The freeze will also terminate if the property transfers. An eligible owner shall apply for the Special Assessment Level by filing a signed application with the assessor of the parish where the property is located.
Following are the types of freezes available:
Senior Citizens Freeze:
Residential property receiving the homestead exemption which is owned and occupied by any person(s) 65 years of age or older, or the surviving spouse 55 years of age or older, who meets all eligibility requirements and whose adjusted gross income does not exceed $100,000 is eligible to apply for the Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze. The adjusted gross income requirement is increased periodically by the Louisiana State Legislature. Applicants must submit proof of income and age by providing a copy of their 1040 IRS Form or their annual Social Security Income Statement for verification. A husband and wife who file income taxes separately, the combined income for both must be $100,000.
Veterans Disability Freeze:
Residential property which is owned and occupied by any veteran of the armed forces with a service connected disability rating of 50% or greater, or spouses of members of the armed forces or Louisiana National Guard who are KIA/MIA/POW for a period exceeding ninety (90) days. Applicants must provide proof of status as determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
Residential property which is owned and occupied by any person who is permanently totally (100%) disabled as determined by a final non-appealable judgment of court or as certified by a state or federal administrative agency. Applicants must provide verification as determined by court judgment or governmental agency.
Capable horticulture, agriculture, timber, and marsh lands of at least 3 acres in size or have produced an average gross annual income of at least $2,000, are assessed at 10% of use value rather than fair market value. Applications of use value are rendered by the landowner at four year intervals. The value is then determined by standards of soil classification set by the U. S. Soil Conservation Service and the Louisiana Tax Commission. This reduction is assessment protects agriculture, timber and marsh land owners from high taxes brought about by inflated land values.
Use Value Assessment Per Acre
|Agricultural & Horticultural||Timberland|
|Class I - $33.81||Class 1 - $39.77|
|Class II - $25.23||Class 2 - $28.28|
|Class III - $21.90||Class 3 - $12.39|
|Class IV - $14.26||Class 4 - $7.53|
Restoration Tax Abatement
Generally, if an owner improves, renovates or adds on to a structure, the assessed value increases and so do the taxes. Owners of commercial buildings or homes individually listed or considered historic components of historic districts recognized by the National Register of Historic Places are eligible to apply for the Restoration Tax Abatement Program if they restore their properties. Improvement projects must be approved by the Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation. Under the recently expanded program, the assessed value and the property assessment can be frozen at the pre-improvement level for five years, resulting in substantial tax savings. This program is not automatic, but must be granted by the local taxing authority, generally the municipality and the Louisiana Department of Economic Development with the Board of Commerce and Industry. There is no set minimum amount of money an owner of a commercial structure must spend in order to qualify. In most cases any project, however small, would be acceptable. The only exception to this is that, on owner-occupied dwellings, projects must be valued at least 25% of the assessed valuation of the structure. The financial benefit also applies to additions to structures as well as work on the structure itself. Click here for more information or please contact: State of Louisiana Department of Economic Development, Restoration Tax Abatement Program at (225) 342-5402.
Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP)
Industrial and commercial development incentives can be administered and renewed for ten-year periods. This type of exemption encourages the development of business and industry within the community, which in turn employs local citizens who contribute to the local economy.
New manufacturing establishments and additions to existing manufacturing establishments can be granted tax exemptions by the Office of Commerce and Industry, through the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, with approval by the Governor. Click here for more information or please call (225) 342-3000.
Other Types of Exemptions
Government, educational, religious, and charitable use properties are exempt from taxation in accordance with state statutes. Agencies or organizations must be deemed as non-profit in order to receive tax exempt status, and the property owned must not be operated, leased or used for commercial purposes unrelated to the exempt purposes of the agency or organization.
Portions of the information contained in this website were complied from the following publications:
Louisiana Property Assessments: by Charles Slay, Assessor, Rapides Parish, Louisiana
Assessment Administration: IAAO Reference Manual of Course 4
Understanding the Assessment Process: By William S. Goodyear, Assessor, Boulder County, Colorado
Constitutional and Statutory Guides to Property Taxation: Louisiana Tax Commission
Homestead Exemption Policy
As per the Louisiana Constitutional Amendment Act #929, the following procedures will constitute eligibility for Homestead Exemption:
To provide that homestead exemption is limited to property owned and occupied by owners; to provide for land classified and assessed at use value; to prohibit homestead exemption to bond for deed property unless granted before June 20, 2003; to explicitly prohibit more than one homestead applying to any person.
- Exemption shall extend to a tract or two or more tracts of land with a residence or mobile home and any adjoining use value tracts not consisting of more than 160 acres, whether rural or urban, owned and occupied by any person or persons owning the property in indivision to the extent of $7,500 of assessed valuation.
(Mobile homes can also be exempt when situated on land not owned by the mobile home owner. The land itself does not qualify if owned by a different person.)
- Exemption shall extend to the surviving or former spouse when property is occupied and title is in the name of the surviving or former spouse of any interest owned, or the usufruct is held by the surviving or former spouse, or a testamentary trust established for the benefit of the surviving or former spouse.
- Exemption shall extend to irrevocable trusts when the principal beneficiaries or settlors were the immediate prior owners of the homestead and is occupied by such principal beneficiary or settlor. Property has to have qualified for the exemption immediately prior to transfer or would have qualified if such property were not owned in trust.
- Exemption shall extend to property where the usufruct has been granted to no more than two usufructuaries who were the prior owners and is occupied by usufructuary. Applies to property which qualified for homestead immediately prior to the granting of such usufruct or would have qualified if such usufruct had not been granted. (Usufruct must be stated on conveyance or amendment to and must be made part of public record.)
- Exemption shall extend only to a natural person or persons, or which the beneficiaries of the trust are a natural person or persons. (Corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, etc. do not qualify.)
- Exemption shall apply to property owned in indivision, but shall be limited to the pro rata ownership interest of that person or persons occupying the property. If two or more persons own property in indivision, and all undivided owners occupy the property, all are eligible for exemption. Those who own in indivision and do not reside on the property can not exempt their undivided portion.
(Unprobated estates may be exempted only to the pro-rata interest owned by heir or heirs occupying property. An Affidavit of Heirship must be made part of public record in order to claim exemption.)
- No homestead shall be granted for Bond for Deed, unless homestead was applied and granted prior to June 20, 2003.
- No more than one homestead exemption shall extend or apply to any person.
- Exemption shall not extend to municipal taxes.
NOTE: Eligibility of Special Assessment Freezes can also be determined by the above noted policies.