The assessor is required by the Louisiana Constitution to discover, list and value all property subject to ad valorem taxation on an assessment roll each year. The "ad valorem" basis for taxation means that all property should be taxed "according to value" which is the definition of ad valorem. The assessed value is a percentage of the "fair market value" or "use value" as prescribed by law. Property is assessed as follows:
The assessor does not raise or lower taxes. The assessor does not make the laws which affect property owners. The Constitution of the State of Louisiana, as adopted by the voters, provides the basic framework for taxation, and tax laws are made by the Louisiana Legislature. The rules and regulations for assessment are set by the Louisiana Tax Commission. The tax dollars are levied by the taxing bodies, such as the police jury, school board, etc., and are collected by the Sheriff's Office as Ex-Officio Tax Collector. The assessor's primary responsibility is to determine the "fair market value" of your property so that you pay only your fair share of the taxes. The amount of taxes you pay is determined by the "millage rate", which is applied to your property's assessed value. The millage rate, as voted by the public, is levied by all the taxing agencies within the district, city, parish or state. This includes school districts, police juries, law enforcement districts, etc. The millage rate is the basis for the budget needed or demanded by the voters to provide for services such as schools, roads, law enforcement, etc. Millage rates are simply those rates which will provide funds to pay for those services.
Residential property owner(s) receiving the homestead exemption who are 65 years old or older and earn a combined adjusted gross income for the year 2013 of $70,484 or less per year can freeze the assessed value of their homestead. The level may change from year to year, so it is advisable to check with the assessor's office to determine whether you qualify. An eligible owner shall apply for the special assessment level by filing a signed application with the Assessor's Office and providing proof of age and income (ex. W-2, 1099-R, Etc.). This special assessment will freeze the assessed value of the homestead for as long as the applicant owns and resides in the home and income does not exceed the maximum allowed. This special assessment level is lost if improvements in excess of 25% of the home's value are added. The freeze extends to a surviving spouse who is at least 55 years of age, and meets all other qualifications.
Every four (4) years the assessor must reassess properties within his/her respected parish. The purpose is to insure that properties are assessed at present fair market value.
You must apply for homestead exemption and then it is determined if you are eligible. Once granted, it is in effect permanant, as long as you own and reside at that location.
To arrive at the "fair market value" for your property, the assessor must know what "willing sellers" and "willing buyers" are doing in the marketplace. He must also keep current on cost of construction in the area and any changes in zoning, financing, and economic conditions which may affect property values. The assessor may use any of the three nationally recognized approaches to value, those being cost, income, and market . This data is then correlated into a final value estimated by the assessor. After your estimate has been made, the appropriate percentage of value, or level of assessment, required by law is calculated as your "assessed value".
Fair market value is defined by Louisiana Revised Statute 47:2321 as follows:
"Fair Market Value is the price for property which would be agreed upon between a willing and informed buyer and a willing and informed seller under the usual and ordinary circumstances; it shall be the highest price estimated in terms of money which property will bring if exposed for sale on the open market with reasonable time allowed to find a purchaser who is buying with knowledge of all the uses and purposes to which the property is best adapted and for which it can be legally used."
Finding the "fair market value" of your property involves discovering the price most people would pay for it in its present condition in the current open market. It is not quite that simple, however, because the market and the condition of the home are constantly changing.
Tax rates are based on millages, bond issues, and fees that have been voted by registered voters in the various districts which have been established by the Legislature or Constitution. The tax monies collected for the districts go to pay for schools, roads, law enforcement, fire protection, and other services that the taxpayers demand and desire from local government. To calculate the taxes on your property, you must take the assessed value, which is a percentage of "fair market value", and multiply it by the appropriate tax or millage rate to arrive at the amount due. If, as an example, you have $1000 of taxable assessed value and the appropriate tax rate is 100 mills, you would pay $1000 x .100 = $100 in taxes. If your home is valued at $100,000 and assessed at 10 percent, or $10,000, and you are eligible and have signed for homestead exemption, you would calculate your taxes as follows:
|Taxable Assessed Value||$2,500||$10,000|
|Assumed Tax Rate||x 0.100||x 0.020|
When additional taxes are voted by the people, an individual's property tax bill will increase. Also, when market value increases, naturally, so does the assessed value. If you were to make improvements to your existing property, for instance, add a garage or an additional room, the "fair market value" increases, and therefore, the assessed value would also increase. The assessor has not created the value. Buyers and sellers set value by their transactions in the marketplace. The assessor simply has the legal and moral responsibility to study those transactions and appraise your property accordingly.
As a taxpayer, you have a certain legal responsibility to furnish accurate information on your property. Our office welcomes all information provided by the property owner. If you have complied with these legal requirements, you are entitled to question the value placed on your property. If your opinion of the value of your property differs from the assessor's, you may come to our office to discuss the matter in person. Be prepared to show evidence that the assessor's valuation of the property is incorrect. Our staff will be glad to answer your questions about the assessor's appraisal. If, after discussing the matter with the assessor, a difference of opinion still exists, you may appeal your assessment to the Vermilion Parish Board of Review according to procedures. After reviewing your appeal, if the Board agrees with the assessor and a difference of opinion still exists, you may appeal the Board's decision to the Louisiana State Tax Commission. If the Commission agrees with the Board and the assessor, you can plead your case before the courts should you choose to do so.