Louisiana legislature refers two constitutional amendments to 2022 ballot concerning property taxes

On May 24, the Louisiana State Legislature referred two constitutional amendments to the Nov. 8 general election ballot, bringing the total number of measures currently certified for the ballot to seven.

One amendment would remove the requirement to annually re-certify income for homeowners that are permanently and totally disabled in order to keep their special assessment level for property taxes.

The Louisiana Constitution provides for a special assessment level that limits the total assessment of a property from increasing above the assessment level in the first year that a property owner receives the special assessment level. The special assessment level is available for property owners receiving a homestead exemption and who are:

  • 65 years old or older;
  • veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 50% or more;
  • members of the U.S. or Louisiana National Guard who were killed or missing in action or are a prisoner of war for 90 days or more; or
  • determined by a court or state or federal agency as being permanently and totally disabled.

A person receiving the special assessment level may not have an adjusted gross income over $100,000. The $100,000 income limit was set to be adjusted annually by the Consumer Price Index beginning in 2026. For those who are married filing separately, the adjusted gross income is determined by both individuals’ incomes. Property owners receiving the special assessment level, except those who are 65 years old and older, must annually certify their income from the prior tax year with the parish assessor.

The other amendment would expand property tax exemptions for disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. In Louisiana, properties are assessed at 10% of fair market value. The homestead exemption in Louisiana exempts the first $7,500 of assessed value from property taxes. Disabled veterans with a 100% disability rating may receive an additional $7,500 exemption, meaning the first $15,000 of their property’s assessed value is exempt from property taxes.

Under the amendment, veterans with a service-related disability rating of 50% or more (but below 70%) would receive an additional property tax exemption of $2,500 of assessed value after the first $7,500 homestead property tax exemption, bringing their total exemption to $10,000. Veterans with a service-related disability rating of 70% or more (but below 100%) would receive an additional exemption of $4,500, bringing their total exemption to $12,000. The total assessed value of a property owned by a veteran that is totally disabled or that is rated as 100% unemployable by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would be exempt from property taxes.

The property tax exemptions would be extended to the surviving spouse of a deceased disabled veteran whether or not the exemption was claimed on the property prior to the veteran’s death.

The amendment would provide that tax revenue lost due to increased property tax exemptions would be absorbed by the local taxing authority and would not create any additional taxes for other taxpayers during any future reappraisals or millage adjustments.

The Louisiana State Legislature may refer additional constitutional amendments to the ballot during its 2022 legislative session, which is set to end on June 6. The Legislature referred five constitutional amendments to the ballot during its 2021 legislative session. The measures would do the following:

  • provide for the adjustment of ad valorem tax rates by a taxing authority up to the maximum rate approved by the constitution until the authorized rate expires;
  • allow local governments to waive water charges for customers if damages are not caused by the customer;
  • limit the increase in assessed value of residential property in Orleans Parish to 10% of the property’s assessed value from the prior year;
  • increase the maximum amount of certain state funds authorized to be invested in equities to 65%; and
  • allow classified service/civil service employees to publicly support the election campaigns of individuals in their immediate family when off duty.

During the 20-year period between 2000 and 2020, the statewide ballot in Louisiana featured 104 constitutional amendments. An average of 10 amendments appeared on the ballot, and the number of amendments on the ballot ranged from four to 21. Voters approved 71.15% (74 of 104) and rejected 28.85% percent (30 of 104) of the constitutional amendments.

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