Entergy and other power companies have worked to get power back on line, local government is moving to clean up the streets and repair damage to government buildings, schools, and infrastructure, and telephone and local cable providers are working to restore service. Offices, businesses, and retail outlets are reopening at a quick pace. But where does this leave the many homeowners and business people whose property suffered real damage as a result of the storm? In this there is good news regarding their annual property tax liability.
Following Hurricane Katrina while still serving as Assessor of Jefferson Parish I pushed through the legislature a new law that allows the assessor to value damaged property in its damaged condition. (See House Bill 46 of the 2006 Special Legislative Session. This law was updated in the 2006 Regular Legislative Session as House Bill 684.)
Under general law, property is assessed for property tax purposes in its condition as of January 1 of each year. Back on January 1 Isaac was an unknown future event. But now, as the result of Isaac, property is damaged. Roofs are gone, walls have collapsed, and in some cases buildings may have moved off of their foundations. Some homes and business property cannot be occupied due to the damage that has occurred. The widespread damage caused by Katrina in 2005 made the passage of HB 46 critical and made it a little easier for people to repair their property and move back home. Today HB 684 will also make it easier for property owners whose property suffered damage as a result of Isaac to repair their property and move home and restart their businesses. It would be grossly unfair to require property owners to pay taxes on structures and other property that is no longer there or is so damaged that the property would not be usable until it is repaired or replaced. The law worked well post-Katrina and the law will work well now post Isaac.
If your property has been damaged as a result of Isaac you should gather together photographs of the damage and valid cost estimates to repair the property. Such estimates may come from your insurance carrier as well as from your contractor. Put this information together and contact your assessor to find out what additional information the office may require. The law will allow the assessor to reduce your assessed value for 2012 based on the reduction in value of your property as a result of the damage caused by Hurricane Isaac.
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