The Assessor is required by the Louisiana Constitution to 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 either a percentage of "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 office has nothing to do with the total amount of taxes collected. 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. These include 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.
If it is determined that your property is eligible for homestead exemption, you must come by our office and make application for it. Once you have signed your homestead exemption, it is in effect permanently, as long as you own and reside at that location. If anything happens that affects the ownership of your property, it is your responsibility to notify our office to determine future homestead eligibility.
The basis of your assessment is "fair market value" of your property. To arrive at "fair market value", 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 estimate by the appraiser. After your appraisal 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 millage, 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 dollars 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 tax rate is 120 mills, you would pay $1000 x .120 = $120 in taxes. If your home is valued at $100,000, and you are eligible and have signed for homestead exemption, you would calculate your taxes as follow:
|$100,000||(Fair Market Value)|
|x 10%||(Level of Assessment)|
|= $10,000||(Assessed Value)|
|- 7,500||(Maximum Homestead Exemption)|
|= 2,500||(Taxable Value)|
|x .120||(Tax Rate)|
|= $300.00||(Total Parish Taxes Due)|
Note: This example is for parish taxes only as homestead exemption does not apply to city taxes.
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, an additional room, or a swimming pool, the "fair market value" increases, and therefore, the assessed value would also increase. The assessor has not created the value. People make 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 Union 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.
Our Office is not responsible for the mailing out of Tax Notices. Each individual Tax Collector mails out their own notices. If you did not recieve your Notice you can call the Parish Tax Collector's Office (318)368-2511. If you have not reiceved your City Tax Notice you would need to call whichever city is applicable to your assessment. Even if you do not recieve a tax notice, it is your responsibility to be sure that the property taxes have been paid.
According to Article VII, Section 18 of the Louisiana Constitution and R.S.47:2331, all property that is subject to taxation shall be reappraised (updated) every four years. Assessors should assess residential property and vacant land at 10% of its fair market value and commercial property at 15% of its fair market value. State Law (R.S. 47:2321) defines fair market value as the price for property which would be agreed upon between a willing and informed buyer and a willing and informed seller under usual and ordinary circumstances. State Law (R.S. 47:2323) requires that assessors follow uniform guidelines, procedures, and rules and regulations in determining fair market value.