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It happens every four years and it's one of those things property owners dread-- reassessment. And, for those whose property has been re-valued by the tax assessor, it usually means an increase in the property tax bill at the end of the year.
If you are one of those people whose property was reassessed this year, you probably have received a little white card in the mail notifying you of the change in your property value.
This year may mean double disappointment for some seniors whose property value, for tax purposes, was frozen in the past.
The law says seniors must provide proof of income to show they do not earn more than a certain amount which is just under $68,000 this year.
It's been more than ten years since a constitutional amendment allowing property values to be frozen for those sixty five and older. In the past, in Calcasieu, seniors had only to show their ID to verify their age. But it turns out they should also have been verifying income to make sure those given the tax break don't make too much money to qualify. "We're in the process of auditing those freezes because there was a point in time when we did not verify the income," said Calcasieu Assessor Wendy Curphy Aguillard.
Aguillard says they are verifying that those whose property values are frozen meet the income limit which, this year, is just under $68-000. "The previous administration chose not to look at the income limit. I 'm choosing to follow the law and make sure that everyone is doing what they're supposed to be doing in our office. And we're going to follow the law and check the income limit," said Aguillard.
As well, an estimated 62,000 property owners are getting cards in the mail notifying them their property has gone up in value and that they may get a bigger tax bill at the end of the year. "We're required by law to assess property as close to fair market value as possible. So, that's why everyone is getting a little postcard. We're making them aware of what their new assessed values are," said Aguillard.
She explains they won't know exactly how much an individual's taxes will be until taxing bodies finalize the tax millages for the year. "The millages that are on there that show tax dollars are going to be based on last year's millages. WE don't, have not received the millages yet for the individual taxing districts to correct the millages for this year," said Aguillard.
And if someone thinks the assessor's office got it wrong, there's a process to appeal.
Generally those who pay no taxes because they are completely exempt don't get the cards. Property taxes are due at the end of the year.
To see what your estimated taxes will be at the end of the year log onto the Calcasieu Assessor's web site. Or call the assessor's office at 337-721-3000
To get more information on related topics such as applying for a freeze on your property value if you qualify, check out the Louisiana Tax Commission site.
Those who cannot resolve a value dispute on their reassessment have two weeks in August during when they can lodge an official protest.