Property Taxes

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab


About Property Taxes

Property taxes (sometimes called "ad valorem" taxes) are taxes imposed by the government on property owners. The amount of property tax a person pays depends on the value of the property they own. Property taxes are used to fund public services. Funding goes to things like schools, roads, police and fire departments, libraries, parks, and other public services.

Property taxes in Louisiana are imposed by political subdivisions such as the Parish, the school board, the city, etc. –  not by the state itself. The Parish Assessor’s Office usually collects property tax payments. The amount of property taxes you owe each year varies depending on where you live. 

The tax collector for each parish sends a property tax bill to homeowners every December. Tax payments are usually due by December 31st each year. If you fail to pay on time, there will be a 1% interest added for each month your payment is late. Your property can be sold by the tax collectors through a “tax sale” if you fail to pay your yearly amount owed. 

For more information on property taxes in Louisiana, contact your local parish tax assessor’s office. The local tax assessor's office can provide information on the amount of taxes due, payment options, and deadlines. The Louisiana Department of Revenue can provide assistance and guidance on calculating and paying property taxes.

What You Need To Know About Property Taxes

There are two types of property that can be taxed, real property and personal property. Real property includes land, buildings (like your house or apartment), and other improvements to land, and mobile homes. Personal property includes all things other than real estate, movable items (anything that is able to be moved or removed from the property) such as machinery, fixtures, and furnishings. Household goods, vehicles licensed to operate on highways, and personal effects are not subject to property tax.

Property tax is calculated by taking the millage rate of the property and multiplying it by the property’s assessed value. Your property’s assessed value is determined by the parish assessor or the Louisiana Tax Commission and is based upon the fair market value or the use value. 
A millage or millage rate is the percentage of value that is used to calculate your property taxes. The millage is usually called “a mill levy.”  You can find the mill rate for your property on your tax bill or you can contact the tax assessor’s office in the parish where the property is located. 

The millage rate is the tax rate used to calculate the specific property tax. An existing millage rate for a particular levy can change for a variety of reasons. Usually, it is the local government or the parish that calculates the levy. The levy amount is based on what is needed in the upcoming year to fund public services. 

Changes in millage rates occur under four circumstances:

  1.  If the voters approve a millage increase.
  2. If the legislature approves the creation of a special district and grants authority to levy a millage.
  3. If the Board of Liquidation/City Debt adjusts the millage rate needed to collect the amount required to service its general obligation bonds. When new bonds are issued this millage increases and as older bonds mature this millage rate decreases.
  4. Every four years the Assessors must reassess real property. State law provides that the tax collected in the year following a reassessment is adjusted so that it is equal to the tax collected the previous year on the same property tax base. The amount of millage is then adjusted up or down to satisfy this requirement. If the millage is lowered because of an increase in property values, it may be “rolled up” to the prior year’s millage after a public hearing and approval by a 2/3 vote of the taxing authority. The Assessors must reassess personal property every year and the Louisiana Tax Commission reappraises public service property every year.

Your property’s value can change for many reasons. The assessor does not decide or create your property value. One major reason for a change in your property’s value are physical changes. The value of your property may change if you have made additions or improvements to the property. The property value can also be affected by any major damage to the property. The most frequent cause for change of property value is when there is a change in the market. 
If you disagree with the assessed property value, you can protest the value to the Louisana Tax Commission. 

The assessor assesses all property in the parish, except for public service properties which are assessed by the Louisiana Tax Commission. Reassessment of a property may occur at any time, but the constitution requires a statewide reassessment of all property in all parishes at least every four years.

The rate used in determining assessed value differs depending on the property type. The following property types are evaluated based on fair market value: residential 10%, commercial 15%, and public service 25%. Agricultural, horticultural, marsh, and timber lands are assessed at 15% of use value.

An assessor may send notification of assessment value to a property owner at any time he deems appropriate. However, the assessor is required to send written notification to a property owner relative to the amount of an assessment under three scenarios: (1) after a statewide reassessment, (2) if the assessment increases by 15% or more from that of the previous year, and (3) if the taxpayer has requested notification in accordance with the law.

Assessors are required to annually expose each year's parish assessment list (also known as the "tax roll") for public inspection. In all parishes other than Orleans, this inspection period occurs during any 15-day period occurring between August 15th and September 15th. In Orleans Parish, the inspection period is 32 days, and it must happen between July 15th and August 15th. The assessor is required to post a newspaper ad publicizing the time period for inspection. This is the time for a taxpayer to check their assessment and discuss any concerns they may have in that regard with the assessor. Appeals are usually initiated at this stage.


About Property Tax Exemptions

Certain types of properties and individuals may qualify for property tax exemptions based on their specific situation and status. The Louisiana constitution provides for a wide variety of very specific exemptions from property tax, which include but are not limited to those benefitting the following interests: disabled veterans, nonprofit corporations, charitable clubs, labor organizations, trade associations, agricultural businesses, maritime industries, electricity producers, the arts, import and export, motor vehicle, manufacturing and other businesses, distribution centers, and offshore mineral exploration.

Types of Exemptions or Other Special Tax Treatment

The "special assessment level" is authorization to freeze the amount of assessed value for property owned and occupied by certain persons who are elderly or have a disability, and who also have an income below a certain threshold. Generally, a special assessment applies to the homestead of people 65 years or older and when their household income is below a certain level. 

There are two criteria for this special tax treatment, both of which must be met in order for a property to qualify for the special assessment level.

  1. The property owner's adjusted gross income from their most recent federal income tax return is less than $50,000 which amount is adjusted annually by the Consumer Price Index (in 2013 the limit is $69,463). AND
  2. Any of the following applies to the property:
  • Owned and occupied by a person who is 65 years of age or older.
  • Owned and occupied by a person who has a 50% or greater military service-related disability.
  • Last owned and occupied by a member of the armed forces who was killed or is missing in action, or who is a prisoner of war.
  • Owned and occupied by a person who is 100% disabled as certified by state and federal agencies charged with determining disability.

Louisiana offers several homestead exemptions that can reduce the amount of property taxes due. A homestead exemption is Louisiana’s efforts to protect qualifying property owners by exempting from paying a portion of their property taxes. These include exemptions for veterans, senior citizens, disabled persons, and low-income homeowners. In order to qualify for homestead exemption, you must own and live in your house as your primary residence. You cannot receive more than one homestead exemption. It is important to go to the tax assessor’s office to apply for a homestead exemption as soon as you purchase and begin living in your home. You must apply for a homestead exemption in person at your Parish Assessor’s office. You should bring with you a copy of your act of sale for the property and a photo ID showing the address of the property on which the homestead exemption is being filed. Louisiana State Law allows an individual one homestead exemption up to $75,000. If you own the property jointly with your spouse, only one has to appear in person to apply. The amount of savings that you would receive is generally about $750-$800 per year depending on your assessed value and the millage rate in your area.

The homestead exemption applies to property taxes levied in all political subdivisions other than taxes levied by municipalities, except it does apply to municipal taxes levied in Orleans Parish.

​​Here is one example showing why it is important to file a homestead exemption
If the tax rate is 150 mills and total assessed value is $10,000 with no exemptions, the taxes would be calculated as $10,000 x .150 = $1,500.00. If for the same house you had a homestead exemption the taxes would be: $10,000 - $7,500(H.E.) = $2,500.00 x .150 = $375.00 in taxes. 
The assessor’s office sends a homestead card to each homeowner around September or October of each year. This process enables the assessor to monitor the homestead exemptions and provides the homeowner with a copy for their personal records indicating that their property is still receiving the homestead exemption. After receiving the homestead exemption card, you should retain this copy for your records.

Beginning in the year 2012, property receiving the homestead exemption which is owned and occupied by a veteran with a service-connected disability rating of 100% by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, may be exempt from parish ad valorem taxation for up to a maximum of 15,000 assessed value of the property.

The surviving spouse of a deceased veteran with a service-connected disability rating of 100% shall be eligible for this exemption as long as the surviving spouse remains the owner and resides on the property.
If the property eligible for the exemption has an assessed value in excess of 15,000, ad valorem property taxes shall apply to the assessment in excess of that amount.  The extended exemption will only apply to the year in which the application is made and thereafter.

Veterans who may qualify must bring the “DISABLED VETERANS PROPERTY TAX BENEFITS CERTIFICATION” letter provided by the Louisiana Department of Veteran’s Affairs.  For further details, please contact one of our three offices.

Where, How, & When To File

Where, How, & When To File

Unless exempted, every Louisiana homeowner must file (meaning you must pay) property taxes each year. Property taxes in Louisiana are assessed and collected at the parish level. Residents should contact their parish tax assessor’s office for information on how to pay their taxes. Louisiana state property taxes are filed with the local assessor's office in the parish where the property is located. Payments can be made in person at the assessor’s office or online. Property tax bills are typically mailed out in October and are due by December 31st of that same year.

Prepare To File Property Taxes

You can search for your local tax assessor's office by searching your local parish government website. To find out more information, use this table which provides parish-level information about how property taxes work in each Louisiana parish.

You will need to provide proof of ownership of the property, such as a deed or title. You will also need to provide proof of your address, such as a driver's license or utility bill. Contact your local assessor's office to make sure you have all the necessary documents and information needed. 

Fill out any necessary local property tax forms. Most assessors' offices provide these forms online or in person.

Submit the form and payment to your local assessor's office. The office will then process your property tax payment and send you a receipt.

Legal Issues To Consider Related To Property Taxes

Legal Issues To Consider Related To Property Taxes

If you do not file your property taxes, you may be subject to penalties and interest charges, as well as legal action. Property taxes are due by the end of the year and must be paid in full. Failure to pay can result in liens being placed on your property, which can make it difficult to sell or refinance. You may also be subject to late fees and penalties if you do not file and pay on time. It is important to file and pay your property taxes on time to avoid further issues.

Overview Of Property Tax Problems

Taxpayers often challenge their property tax assessments when they feel the value set by the government is too high. Property owners may appeal their tax assessments and the value set by filing an appeal with the local tax assessor and attending a hearing. Property owners may have their tax appeal rejected if the appeal board finds that the taxpayer’s claim was not sufficient. 

Property owners may be assessed more than their fair share of their taxes if their home or property is over-assessed. Property owners may appeal their tax assessments if they believe their assessment is not accurate. This process typically involves filing an appeal with the local tax assessor and attending a hearing. 

Property owners may be able to reduce their property taxes by taking advantage of exemptions, credits, and deductions. Examples include exemptions for veterans, seniors, disabled individuals, and homesteads. Property owners may be denied a tax exemption if they do not meet certain eligibility requirements.

Property owners may fail to pay their property taxes on time, resulting in a delinquent tax bill.  Property taxes are typically due on a yearly basis and are based on the assessed value of the property. If property taxes are not paid, the local parish government may impose a lien on the property and may even start foreclosure proceedings. Property owners should research their parish to understand the consequences for not paying property taxes. 

Property owners may challenge a tax lien if they believe the lien was improperly imposed. This process typically involves filing a challenge in the local court system and attending a hearing. 

Past-due property taxes become a lien placed on your property. When property taxes remain unpaid, the taxing authority will eventually sell the lien or sell the property in a tax sale. If a lien is placed on your home it is important to pay it as quickly as possible because when your lien is sold to a party, that party has the authority to foreclose on your home in order to get the title to your property. When a tax sale happens on your property, you are likely to lose ownership of your home if you fail to pay the overdue amount. In Louisiana, you will have a certain amount of time, usually 3 years, to “redeem” the property. In order to redeem your property you must pay forward the over-due amount, plus any interest, and other various costs to keep ownership of your home. 

Last Review and Update: Mar 06, 2023
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