How is property assessed?
What causes property values to change?
Why can assessed values change from year to year?
What are my rights and responsibilities?
When should I discuss my assessment with the assessor's office?
When should I file a Homestead Application?
What are the qualifications to apply for the Special Assessment Level for 65 and older?
What is the relationship between Market Value and Assessed Value for property in Louisiana?
What is meant by millage rates or mills?
What does the assessor do?
What does the assessor not do?
How is your assessment determined?
What is fair market value?
How are taxes calculated?
How can my taxes increase?
What if I disagree with the assessor's value of my property?
What are some important dates for property owners?
Where can I find a glossary of assessment-related terms?
To find the value of any piece of property the assessor must first know what properties similar to it are selling for, what it would cost today to replace it, how much it takes to operate and keep it in repair, what rent it may earn, and many other dollar facts affecting its value, such as the current rate of interest charged for borrowing the money to buy or build properties like yours.
Using these facts, the assessor can then go about finding the property's value in three different ways.
Sales comparison approach
The first method compares your property to others that have sold recently. These prices, however, must be analyzed very carefully to get the true picture. One property may have sold for more than it was really worth because the buyer was in a hurry and would pay any price. Another may have sold for less money than it was actually worth because the owner needed cash right away. The property was sold to the first person who made an offer.
When using the sales comparison approach, the assessor must always consider such overpricing or under pricing and analyze many sales to arrive at a fair valuation of your property. Size, quality, condition, location, and time of sale are also important factors to consider.
A second way to value your property is based on how much money it would take, at current material and labor costs, to replace your property with one similar. If your property is not new, the assessor must also determine how much it has depreciated. In addition, the assessor must estimate how much a lot like yours would be worth if vacant.
The third way is to evaluate how much income your property would produce if it were rented as an apartment house, a store, or a factory. The assessor must consider operating expenses, taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, and the return most people would expect on your kind of property.
A property's value can change for many reasons. The most obvious is that the property changes. A bedroom, garage, or swimming pool is added, or part of the property is destroyed by flood or fire. The most frequent cause of a change in value is a change in the market. If a town's major industry leaves, property values can collapse. As decaying neighborhoods with good housing stock are discovered by young homebuyers, prices gradually rise, and then may soar as the neighborhood becomes fashionable. A shortage of detached houses in a desirable city neighborhood can send prices to ridiculous levels. In a recession, larger homes may stay on the market for a long time, but more affordable homes are in demand, so their prices rise. In a stable neighborhood, with no extraordinary pressure from the market, inflation may increase property value.
When market value changes, naturally so does assessed value. For instance, if you were to add a garage to your home, the assessed value would increase. However, if your property is in poor repair, the assessed Value would decrease. The assessor has not created the value. People make value by their transactions in the market place. The assessor simply has the legal responsibility to study those transactions and appraise your property accordingly.
If your opinion of the value of your property differs from the assessor's, by all means go to the office and discuss the matter. Staff will be glad to answer your questions about the appraisal and explain how to appeal if you cannot come to an agreement. The assessor's office relies on the property owner for information. You can help by providing accurate information. If you feel taxes are too high, you should make your opinion known to the proper taxing authorities. Ask about your eligibility for special exemptions.
Each year during the last part of August and the first of September the assessment rolls are open for inspection and for discussion of the assessment with the assessor's office. This is the time to discuss your assessment. It also is the time that the taxpayer can legally file a protest to the assessment if we cannot settle our differences as to assessment. Several taxpayers wait until the tax bill is sent around the first of December to discuss their assessment. We will discuss your assessment at that time but you cannot legally file a protest at that time.
2003 - August 20 through September 3
The Homestead Application should be filed between January 1 and September 3 for each year. To qualify for homestead the owner must have a deed filed by January 1 for the property to qualify for homestead for that year. After a homestead is filed the homestead remains permanent for that property unless there is a change in ownership or if the homeowner no longer resides in the house. If you move you need to notify our homestead department that you no longer qualify for that homestead. If you move to a new home and qualify for homestead you may notify us when you come into our office to file for new homestead.
A Special Assessment level applies to the homestead of persons 65 and older if they have made less than $54,144 in adjusted gross income adjusted for inflation after the year 2000. This special assessment level freezes the assessed value for each year the owner applies and receives this Special Assessment. To qualify each year between Jan 1 and June 30 you must come into our office and file a special form. You also must bring in proof of income for the previous year such as a Tax Return or the Social Security Benefits Earnings Statement. This Special Assessment Level is lost if the property is transferred, improvements are made in excess of 25% of property value, or if the owner fails to file the form. The surviving spouse can qualify if they are over 55 and meet the other qualifications of the exemption.
In Louisiana the classification of property subject to Ad Valorem taxation and the percentage of fair market value applicable to each classification for the purpose of determining assessed value is as follows:
|2. Improvements for Residential (including apartments)
|3. Improvements for Commercial
|4. Business Movable Property (Personal)
|5. Public Service (excluding land)
Bona fide agricultural, horticultural, marsh and timber lands as defined by Revenue Statues shall be assessed for tax purposes at 10% of use value rather than market value. These values are set by Louisiana Tax Commission.
A mill is a tax rate passed by a vote of the people. It is defined as 1/10 of one cent and is multiplied by the assessed value after any exemptions have been subtracted to calculate the taxes. For example, if the tax rate is 120 mills and total assessed value is 10,000 with no exemptions, the taxes would be calculated as $10,000 x .120 = $1200.00. If for the same house you had a homestead exemption the taxes would be (10,000 - 7,500) x .120 = $300.00 in taxes. This demonstrates the importance of signing up for homestead if applicable.
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" 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 "fair market value" or "use value" as prescribed by law.
The Bossier Parish Assessor's office must appraise and assess approximately 60,000 parcels of property. All public service properties are assessed by the Louisiana Tax Commission.
Property is assessed as follows:
LAND--10% of its "fair market value" or "use value"
RESIDENTIAL IMPROVEMENTS--10% of "fair market value"
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY--(Including personal property) - 15% of "fair market value" (NOTE: Commercial land is assessed at 10% of "fair market value".)
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 find the "fair market value" of your property so that you may pay only your fair share of the taxes. The amount of taxes you pay is determined by a "tax rate" applied to your property's assessed value. The tax rate is determined by all the taxing agencies within a district, city, or parish, and those rates fixed by the Constitution. They include school districts, police juries, law enforcement districts, etc. The tax rate is the basis for the budget needed or demanded by the voters to provide for services such as schools, roads, law enforcement, etc. Tax rates are simply those rates which will provide funds to pay for those services.
To arrive at "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 uses the three nationally recognized appraisal 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 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 seller under 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. It is not quite that simple, however, because the assessor has to find what this value would be for every property every year. The assessor's job doesn't stop there. He must immediately begin gathering sales and other data for future years as the market is 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 70 mills, you would pay $1000 x .070 = $70 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:
|| (Assessed Value)
|| (Maximum Homestead Ex.)
|| (Taxable Value)
|| (Parish Tax Rate)
|| (Total Parish Taxes Due)
NOTE: The example is for parish taxes only as homestead exemption does not apply to city taxes or extra "fees."
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 make improvements to your existing property, for instance, add a garage, an additional room, or a swimming pool, the "fair market value" 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 certain legal responsibilities to furnish correct information on your property to the assessor's office. If you have complied with these legal requirements, you are entitled to question values placed on your property. If your opinion of the value of your property differs from the assessor's, by all means go to the office and discuss the matter. Be prepared to show evidence that their valuation is too high. The staff will be glad to answer your questions about the assessor's appraisal explaining how it was done. The assessor's office must rely on the property owner for information, and you can help by providing accurate data. If, after discussing the matter with the assessor, a difference of opinion still exists, you may appeal your assessment to the Bossier Parish Board of Review. If the Board, after hearing your petition, agrees with the assessor, you may appeal this decision to the Louisiana State Tax Commission. If the Commission agrees with the Board and the assessor, you can then hire an attorney and file a lawsuit against the assessor's office.
||Property is assessed as to condition and ownership as of this date.
||Deadline for filing self-reporting forms for business personal property.
||Assessment books cannot be opened for review by taxpayers before this date.
||Deadline for open inspection for correctness of assessment by taxpayers.
||Tax roll must be filed by this date. Tax notices usually mailed shortly after November 15th.
||Property taxes are due and payable by this date and become delinquent thereafter.
As a helpful resource we have included a glossary page with many assessment-related term.
The preceding is designed to give the Bossier Parish taxpayer a brief overview of the duties and responsibilities of your assessor's office and some information which might be of interest to the property owner. It has always been my belief that the property owner has every right to know how an agency that affects him functions.
Should you ever need or want additional information concerning your property taxes or the laws governing them, please contact your assessor's office. We are here to serve you.