Frequently asked questions
What does the assessor do?
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 Assessor’s 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%
What does the assessor NOT do?
The assessor does not raise or lower taxes.
How is property valued?
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 today’s 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.
What is "tangible personal property"?
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.
Why tax property?
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 assessor’s 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.
How are taxes calculated?
Can I get an exemption?
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.
What are my rights and responsibilities?
As a taxpayer, you have a certain legal responsibility to furnish correct information on your property to the assessor’s office. If you have complied with these legal requirements, you are entitled to question values placed on your property.
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.
What are the important dates to note?
April 1 (Deadline for filing personal property returns)
June 30 (Deadline to apply for Homestead Exemption)
August 15 thru September 15 (Assessment review period) for more.
Where can I find more information?
Lot size and square footage
Parcel identification number