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|Tax relief in time of need|
While Louisiana residents continue to dig out from the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav, there exists some good news for property owners who face a Dec. 31 deadline to pay their property taxes.
In the event that a natural disaster strikes the state, such as Hurricane Gustav, property owners who incurred damages from high wind and/or flooding have the option of asking the tax assessor in the parish in which the damage or damages occurred to reassess their property. In reassessing property in the wake of a disaster, a tax assessor must take into account the damage or damages high wind and/or flooding brought about. Property owners who were dealt a blow thanks to high wind and/or flooding also can request an extension in paying their property taxes, though it should be noted that any extension granted in paying property taxes would include a penalty, per se, of some 6 percent interest.
That's what state law says, which notes the governor must declare that an emergency or a disaster exists before property owners can pursue relief from their tax assessor.
Paul Hargrove, a member of the Louisiana Tax Commission, brought those provisions to our attention. He believes not many property owners in Louisiana are aware of the post-disaster property tax provisions the state Legislature approved following hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
We suspect Hargrove is correct.
We also believe Hargrove should be commended for notifying the media and property owners of the options property owners can pursue to seek some financial relief in the wake of a disaster like Hurricane Gustav.
In preparing to seek relief on the property tax front from a parish tax assessor, it is important for property owners to document damages to their property, including providing photographs, damage and work estimates from contractors and insurance claim documentation. That includes personal property as well as business property.
While we recognize many property owners will not save a great deal of money by having their property reassessed on the heels of Hurricane Gustav, it is good to know property owners can obtain some financial relief in a time of need.
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