Homeowners angry about increase in property tax bills - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Homeowners angry about increase in property tax bills

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

Many people are dealing with the shock of a bigger property tax bill than they paid last year and won't have any choice but to figure out a way to pay. But some senior citizens and those who think a mistake has been made may get a break if they act before the end of the year.

Many people forget the first $75,000 of the value of one's home is exempt from parish property taxes because of the homestead exemption. That is, people only pay parish property taxes on the value above $75,000. That means your value doesn't have to double for your tax bill to double as Calcasieu Parish Assessor Wendy Aguillard explained.

"If the value increases from $76,000 to $77,000 it's only increased by $1,000.  But the value that they're paying on has doubled from $1,000 to $2,000," said Aguillard.

Most people will just have to find a way to pay. But Aguillard said if you think a mistake has been made, they will re-evaluate your assessment.

"If there's any way for me to help somebody I will be more than glad to help them, within the law, of course. And if there are any errors that we've made, because we do mass appraisal, so there's always going to be a little bit of error. We'll be more than happy to correct anything that we have wrong," said Aguillard.

And senior citizens and others may be eligible for a property tax freeze. But they should get in before the end of the year for relief on this year's bill. Aguillard said they can keep the value from being increased on the tax rolls.

"For those seniors who are 65 or older, for anyone who is 100 percent disabled through Social Security, or who is a veteran who is 50 percent or more disabled, all of those people have a possibility, if they qualify by an income limit, to be able to freeze their property's assessed value," said Aguillard.

The taxes are paid to the tax collector -- which is the sheriff and can be paid in the office or online. They are due by Dec. 31 or the taxpayer is charged one percent per month and other possible costs provided by law.

On Wednesday, we'll talk more about what to do if you cannot pay your property taxes -- though there may not be many options.

To hear more of our interview with Aguillard, click on our web extra on this page.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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