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Frequently Asked Questions
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What does the Assessor do ?
What does the Assessor not do ?

How is property appraised ?

What is Tangible Personal Property ?
Why tax property ?
How are taxes calculated ?
Can I get a tax exemption ?
What are my rights and responsibilities ?
Important dates ?
How do I get more information ?
1. What does the Assessor do ? Back to Top
 

The St. Martin Parish Assessor is responsible for identifying, listing, and fairly valuing all property, both real and personal, subject to ad-valorem taxation, within the parish. The "ad-valorem" basis for taxation means that all property should be taxed "according to value" and assessed at a percentage of its "fair market value" or "use value" as prescribed by law. The "market value" of real property is based on the current real estate market. Finding the "market value" of your property means discovering the price most people would pay for your property in its current condition. Determining a fair and equitable value is the only role of this office in the taxing process.

What is important to remember is that the assessor does not create the value. People make the value by buying and selling real estate in the market place. The assessor has the legal responsibility to study those transactions and appraise your property accordingly.

The assessor also tracks ownership changes; maintains property maps for each piece of real estate; keeps descriptions of all parcels, buildings, and property characteristics up to date; accepts and approves applications from individuals eligible for exemptions and other forms of property tax relief; and, most importantly, analyzes trends in sales prices, construction cost, and rents to best estimate the value of all assessable property.

The St. Martin Parish Assessorís Office must appraise and assess approximately 30,000 parcels of property. All public service properties are assessed by the Louisiana Tax Commission.

Property is assessed as follows:

  • Land: * of its "fair market value" or "use value"
  • Residential Improvements: * of "fair market value"
  • Commercial Land: * of "fair market value"
  • Commercial Improvements: 15% of "fair market value"
  • Public Service (excluding land): 25%
2. What does the Assessor not do ? Back to Top
  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 frame work 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 collected by the Sheriffís Office as Ex-Officio Tax Collector. The assessorís office has nothing to do with the total amount of taxes collected. The assessorís primary responsibility is to find the "fair market value" of your property so that you may only pay your fair share of the taxes. The amount of taxes you pay is determined by a "tax rate" applied to your propertyís 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. Tax rates are simply those rates which will provide funds to pay for those services.
3. How is property appraised ? Back to Top
  Louisiana law requires that properties be reassessed once every four years. However, individual property values may be adjusted between that period in light of sales activity or other factors affecting real estate values in your neighborhood. Sales of similar properties are a strong indicator of values in the real estate market in your vicinity.

To find the value of your property, the assessor must first know what properties have sold, and how much they are selling for in todayís market. That is why we maintain an accurate data base of real estate information. Each transaction must be studied to make sure it was an arms-length transaction, meaning that a willing seller sold to a willing buyer without any undue pressure or special incentives (such as family relationship), and that the property was on the market for neither an excessive nor short period of time. Once this is determined, we can base the value of a property from other sales of comparable properties. This is the sales comparison approach to valuation.

Two other methods are used to appraise property - the cost approach and the income approach. The cost approach is based on how much it would cost today to build an almost identical structure on the parcel. If your property is not new, the assessor must also determine how much the building has lost value over time. The assessor must also determine the value of the land itself - without buildings or any improvements.

The income approach is the third way to evaluate property - usually commercial property. It requires a study of how much revenue your property would produce if it were rented as an apartment house, a store, an office building and so on. The assessor must consider operating expenses, taxes, insurance, maintenance cost, and the return or profit most people would expect on your kind of property.
4. What is Tangible Personal Property ? Back to Top
  Tangible personal property is everything other than real estate that is used in a business or to produce income and that has value by itself. It includes such depreciating assets as furniture, fixtures, tools, machinery, household appliances, signs, equipment, leasehold improvements, supplies, and leased equipment.

Anyone owning tangible personal property on January 1, who has either a proprietorship, partnership, corporation or is a self-employed agent or contractor, must file a tangible personal property return by April 1 each year. Property owners who lease, lend or rent property must also file.

A tangible personal property tax return is mailed by February 15 of each year to all property owners who filed a return the previous year, applied for an occupational license, started or purchased a business. Failure to receive a return does not excuse a person from filing or the penalties on late returns.
5. Why tax property ? Back to Top
  Property taxes provide the funds so our local governments can provide needed services - like educating our children and protecting us from crime. Without property taxes many of the services provided by local government could not be available.

The assessor is not responsible for the amount of taxes collected. The assessorís primary responsibility is to find the fair market value of your property, so that you will pay only your fair share. The value of your property is only one part of the equation.
6. How are taxes calculated ? Back to Top
  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 district 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 follows:

  $ 10,000 (Assessed Value)
- $ 7,500 (Maximum Homestead Exemption)
  ________  
  $ 2,500 (Taxable Value)
x .120 (Parish Tax Rate)
  ________  
  $ 300 (Total Parish Taxes Due)
7. Can I get a tax exemption ? Back to Top
  In addition to determining values, the assessor accepts applications for and administers property tax exemptions.

Several types of exemptions are available. The type of exemption benefiting the largest number of property owners is the Homestead Exemption. If you own property which you use as your primary residence as of January 1, you may apply for Homestead Exemption. This will reduce the taxable value of your home by $75,000, resulting in substantial savings on your property taxes.
8. What are my rights and responsibilities ? Back to Top
  As a taxpayer, you have a certain legal responsibility to furnish correct information on your property to the assessorís office. If you have complied with these legal requirements, you are entitled to question values placed on your property. 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 assessorís office. If your opinion of the value of your property differs form the assessorís, this is the time to discuss your assessment. Be prepared to show evidence that the assessorís valuation of the property is to high. Our staff will be glad to answer your questions about the assessorís appraisal, explaining how it was done. The assessorís 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 St. Martin Parish Board of Review. If the Board, after hearing your petition, agrees with the assessor, a difference of opinion still exists, you may appeal the Boardís decision to the Louisiana Tax Commission. If the Commission agrees with the Board and the assessor, you can plea your case before the courts should you choose to do so.

Several taxpayers wait until the tax bill is sent to discuss their assessment. We will discuss you assessment at that time but you cannot legally file a protest at that time.
9. Important dates ? Back to Top
  April 1 (Deadline for filing personal property returns)
June 30 (Deadline to apply for Homestead Exemption)
August 15 thru September 15 (Assessment review period)
10. How do I get more information ? Back to Top
 

Our staff is available from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday thru Friday to answer your questions. Typical information available at our office includes:

  • Ownership
  • Legal descriptions
  • Assessments
  • Sales Information
  • Lot size and square footage
  • Parcel identification number

Please feel free to call or visit our office. One of our Deputy Assessorís will be happy to help you get the information you need.

Copyright ©2017 St. Martin Parish Assessor. All rights reserved.