Rising home taxes a problem

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 20, 2006

St. John assessor seeking help from state to keep 2007 bills at realistic level


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – As if Louisiana residents haven’t had enough financial problems related to Hurricane Katrina, there is one more on the horizon that St. John Assessor Whitney Joseph is hoping to head off.

Due to the rapid increase in home prices for months after the hurricane, many houses sold for inflated prices.

Now as 2006 is coming to a close, Joseph has been reviewing those home sales and is worried about the tax implication for homeowners when the 2007 assessments are made.

&#8220People have already been hit with high insurance premiums, and now their property taxes may go sky high,” Joseph said. &#8220So we’re hoping to get some kind of exemption before 2007 assessments begin, and use some figures that are more reasonable.”

Joseph has scheduled a meeting just after the new year begins with Louisiana Tax Commission Chairperson Elizabeth Guglielmo and Auditor Supervisor Raymond Foster, in hopes of getting some kind of help.

&#8220I’m not sure what assistance they can give us, but I’m meeting with them, along with other assessors, to plead our case,” Joseph said. &#8220We have got to help people on this end, since assessments from the sales early in 2006 are not realistic to home prices now.”

The sale of a home in 2006 is reassessed in 2007, and will show up on the tax bill that goes out at the end of 2007.

Joseph said he has seen some astounding jumps in prices, which will result in much higher tax bills at the end of 2007.

Some examples were as follows:

-Home in Live Oak Landing sold for $165,000 in 2004, then sold at $235,000 in 2006 for a 43 percent increase in price.

-Home in Riverlands sold for $112,000 in 2002, then sold at $177,000 in 2006 for a 56 percent increase in price.

-Home in Riverlands sold for $95,000 in 2001, then sold at $160,000 in 2006 for a 68 percent increase in price.

-Home in Carrollwood sold for $97,000 in 2005, then sold for $155,000 in 2006 for a 60 percent increase in price.

-Home in Riverlands sold for $99,900 in 2003, then sold for $163,000 in 2006 for a 63 percent increase in price.

Joseph wants some kind of exemption to not count the prices for home sales in the early part of 2006, since he knows those prices are no longer realistic. However the assessor has a mandatory audit every four years, and is facing a situation he currently cannot change.

&#8220Even some of the late 2005 home sales, after Katrina, are much higher than they should be,” he explained. &#8220This is going to tax people out of their homes.”

Joseph said he has had people coming to his office lately, some in tears, saying they can’t afford the new tax bills that are already showing up, from some of the late 2005 home sales.

&#8220One lady came in and said she had recently bought a house, but wouldn’t have even done it if she had known how much the tax bill would be,” Joseph said. &#8220And I even had two people tell me they might be moving since the taxes look like they are going to be so high.

&#8220This is a serious problem and I just hope we get some kind of help from the state to give us some relief,” he added.