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Homestead exemption audit set

Acadia Parish is in the process of examining tax rolls in search of people improperly claiming multiple homestead exemptions, according to Assessor James “Jimbo” Petitjean.
The practice of claiming multiple homestead exemptions allows taxpayers to avoid part of their local property tax obligation.
The Acadia Parish Assessor’s office has hired the Covington-based firm Assessure Systems to audit the parish’s tax rolls.
An early survey from the company indicates that parish agencies could be losing out on revenue through multiple homestead exemption claims, according to Petitjean.
This examination by a third party would proactively offset an unsuccessful attempt by the Louisiana Tax Commission to pass legislation during the 2018 regular legislative session that would have granted the agency the authority to perform its own audit program statewide.
A significant number of Louisiana’s Assessors have increasingly opted to conduct the audit internally, thus allowing more local control over the process.
State laws allow individuals and married couples to claim an exemption on property taxes levied against the first $75,000 of fair market value on their primary residence.
“It is apparent that some parish homeowners, knowingly or not, claim exemptions on multiple properties,” said Petitjean. “Sometimes this occurs when people inherit homes from their parents and do not do a proper succession.
“In other cases, married couples will register homes in one spouse’s maiden name, or in a child’s name, to avoid paying additional taxes.”
There are approximately 17,117 homesteads in the parish. Assessure checks homestead exemptions using a national database of information they routinely acquire pertaining to motor vehicle and property ownership records from throughout the United States.
The Assessor’s office will verify each finding before alerting the property owners of possible violations, Petitjean said. Once notified, property owners will have the opportunity to resolve any potential conflicts with their assessments.
Where a dual exemption was incorrectly claimed, the Acadia Parish Tax Collector will collect back taxes for 2018. This service will be paid from the collection of these back taxes.

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