Before the Sale
It is always a good idea to have an abstract of title run on the property that you intend to purchase. The abstract is prepared by professional title abstractors who check the chain of title for a certain period of time to determine if there are any flaws or clouds on the property which may affect your undivided ownership. From this abstract of title, the attorney passing the sale can render a title opinion as to the merchantability and validity of your ownership. Most lenders require this abstract before lending money on property, and while it adds to the closing cost, it is a good investment. Buyers may also request that a tax certificate be obtained from the Sheriff and Tax Collector of East Baton Rouge Parish. This certificate can be obtained at a very nominal cost and reflects that the taxes have been paid up to date. Title insurance is also a good protective device if the buyer checks the policy for any and all exclusions before buying it.
At The Time of the Sale
It is extremely important to remember that during the closing of the sale that the taxes are settled, not paid. As the new property owner, you should be sure to obtain a tax bill after the first day of December of that year and make arrangements for payment, either personally or through your escrow account with the mortgage company. Make sure you read the article on tax sales and adjudications on this website. If you purchase your home in the middle of the year, the previous owner will receive the tax bill, but it is the new homeowner’s responsibility to see that taxes are paid.
In order to qualify for homestead exemption, Louisiana State Law requires that the homeowner must own and occupy the residence by December 31st of the applicable tax year. If the homeowner purchases a home in 2009, the homeowner would be eligible for homestead exemption in the 2009 tax year. Louisiana State Law allows an individual one homestead exemption up to $75,000. Application for homestead in East Baton Rouge Parish can be made by applying in person either at the Main office, the Coursey Branch office or the Zachary Branch office. The homestead exemption is a tremendous benefit for homeowners. After qualifying for homestead exemption, the property owner does not need to reapply each year, unless there have been changes in the title of the property. The homestead exemption law gives property owners a tax break on their property taxes. The amount of savings that you would receive is generally about $750-$800 per year depending on your assessed value and the millage rate in your area. It is important to remember that the homestead exemption does not exempt municipal taxes. If a property owner lives inside any city limits, he will owe some taxes regardless of the assessed value. The assessor’s office sends a homestead card to each homeowner around September or October of each year. This process enables the assessor to monitor the homestead exemptions and provides the homeowner with a copy for their personal records indicating that their property is still receiving the homestead exemption. After receiving the homestead exemption card, you should retain this copy for your records. Do not return it to the assessor’s office unless you no longer reside in the home. If you do not receive your homestead exemption card by November 25th of each year, and you are still residing in your home, please call our office as soon as possible.
Extended Homestead Exemption for Qualifying Veterans
Beginning in the year 2012, property receiving the homestead exemption which is owned and occupied by a veteran with a service-connected disability rating of 100% by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, may be exempt from parish ad valorem taxation for up to a maximum of $15,000 assessed value of property.
The surviving spouse of a deceased veteran with a service-connected disability rating of 100% shall be eligible for this exemption if the exemption was in effect on the property prior to the death of the veteran and as long as the surviving spouse remains the owner and resides on the property.
If the property eligible for the exemption has an assessed value in excess of 15,000 dollars, ad valorem property taxes shall apply to the assessment in excess of that amount. The extended exemption will only apply to the year which the application is made and thereafter.
Veterans who may qualify should bring to the assessor’s office a copy of the declaration page stating their disability from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. For further details, please contact one of our three offices.
Building Something New?
If you are a land owner in East Baton Rouge Parish and wish to add improvements to your property, parish law requires that a permit be obtained in order for you to begin construction. Call 225-389-3221 before beginning construction. Once the improvement is made, field inspectors for the East Baton Rouge Parish Assessor’s Office will then make an inspection on your new addition to insure that your improvement is complete and your property is assessed properly. An adjustment will then be made on the East Baton Rouge Parish Tax rolls to reflect your new improvement. That will in turn reflect on your tax bill.
Special Assessment Level
The Special Assessment Level allows someone who meets certain requirements to have the assessed value of the property frozen. Those who qualify for the special assessment level should be aware that this does not automatically freeze the amount of their tax bill. Only the assessed value will be frozen. The amount of taxes due could change due to an increase in a millage rate in your area or if the size of living area is increased.
- One of the owners must be 65 years of age or older as of January 1 of the qualifying year.
- Owner or owners must have a total combined adjusted gross income which cannot exceed $100,000.
- Applicants must own, occupy, and receive a homestead exemption on the property.
There are also special circumstances that would allow a surviving spouse who is 55 years of age or older or who has minor children to receive the special assessment level if the deceased spouse had previously qualified for it. If you are a surviving spouse, please call the East Baton Rouge Parish Assessor’s Office to see if you qualify.
Also, a person who is 100% disabled and considered permanently disabled, or who has a 50% military service connected disability may qualify if they meet the same income requirement above.
Your Tax Bill
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office generates all tax bills from computer data furnished by the East Baton Rouge Parish Assessor’s Office. Tax bills are generally mailed on or around the last week of November. It is important to note that if you purchased your property during the current tax year, the tax notice may be mailed to the prior owner. If you receive a letter from the Sheriff addressed to the prior owner or current resident, you should open the letter to determine if it is a tax bill for your recently purchased property. Compare property descriptions on the tax bill to your property. If they match, you should then make provisions for payment. Do not forward to the seller unless you have made prior arrangements for payment. Always remember that taxes are settled (not paid) at the closing of the sale. All payments should be sent to the Sheriff and Tax Collector of East Baton Rouge Parish by December 31st of the same year to avoid penalties and interest.
Should you need a duplicate bill or need to contact the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, the office may be reached at (225) 389-4810.
Check Your Mailing Address
A good mailing address is absolutely essential in the ad valorem taxation process. Without a correct address, your homestead exemption card could be returned to the assessor’s office and cause your homestead exemption to be canceled. The address is also necessary for the sheriff to send your tax notices or other pertinent notices to you. In routine procedures, the assessor’s office utilizes the address furnished on the recorded property transaction to determine the proper mailing address. Please check your copy of this act and if the listed address is incorrect, please notify the assessor’s office as soon as possible and provide us with the correct address. In addition, if you change addresses and do not sell your property, notify us of your new mailing address.
Change in Ownership
All property transfers are recorded in the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s Office. Employees of the assessor’s office then review all recorded documents and obtain copies of the transfers in order to transfer ownership on the tax rolls. Louisiana law states that the owner of the property as of January 1st of that year shall receive the tax bill in that name.
Tax sales and adjudication of property to the Parish
In the event that your taxes are not paid by a certain date, the Sheriff’s Office will advertise your property for sale to the general public to collect the unpaid taxes. On the advertised date, the property will be subjected to a tax sale. If no one buys the property at the tax sale, the property will then be adjudicated to the Parish of East Baton Rouge in compliance with the laws of the State of Louisiana. It is important to remember that any property that has been sold for non-payment of taxes or adjudicated to the parish can be redeemed within a limited period of time. It is equally important to be advised that after a certain period of time, a property owner can actually lose his property and thus his entire investment for failure to redeem his property from a tax sale or adjudication to the Parish.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff and Tax Collector handles all redemptions on tax sale and adjudicated property. It is the responsibility of the property owner to pay all taxes, penalties, and redemption costs to the Sheriff’s Office.
As a property owner, please be aware that there are large in and out-of-state companies that capitalize on the Louisiana tax sale process. Each year, these companies come to Louisiana and pay millions of dollars to acquire property at the Sheriff’s annual tax sale. Under Louisiana law, a tax deed buyer can earn as much as 17% interest on their investment for the first year. This has become big business for many corporations. One of the goals of this website is to educate the public on the pitfalls that they may encounter in the ad valorem tax process.
If your property has been purchased by a tax buyer for non-payment of taxes, you must first fully redeem your property in the Sheriff’s office before you are allowed to sign a homestead exemption in our office.
Sale of Surplus Property by City Parish
If the property taxes on a piece of property have not been paid, and the property has been adjudicated to the Parish, you may contact the Parish Attorney’s office to determine if the property is eligible for sale. Be aware that adjudicated property purchased from the parish may not have a clear title.
Each year in accordance with the revised statutes, the assessor’s office opens its books for public inspection. The books are open for 15 calendar days (as distinguished from 15 business days) for inspection by the public to review current assessments. It is at that time that you may discuss any discrepancies in the assessed value of your property. After public inspection, the Metro Council sits as a board of review to hear any complaints. If the Metro Council agrees with either the Assessor or complainant, either of the parties can appeal their decision to the Louisiana Tax Commission. After the first of August each year, a call to the Assessor’s office will reveal the open dates scheduled for that year.