State appointees need to work with assessors

Letters to the Editor

April 09, 2008 at 4:37 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

To the editor:
Assessors did indeed endorse Bobby Jindal for governor. Many assessors, hopefully, will influence the new governor to appoint Tax Commission members and Board of Commerce and Industry members who will work with the assessors rather than shift the tax burden to small businesses and homeowners.

"Remember, when one taxpayer receives a doubtful or artificial exemption or tax favor, there is a tendency to under assess all properties to maximize tax benefits to all taxpayers."

Presently, there are two powerful boards, appointed by the governor of Louisiana that effects and impacts every tax roll in this state.

The Louisiana Tax Commission appraises public service properties (pipelines, airlines, railroads, utilities, etc.) which include 1/3 of all taxable property in the state. The Louisiana Tax Commission operates its public service property appraisals in complete secrecy, while homeowners are available for review on the internet, public service properties can only be reviewed through subpoena.

In 2004, the Louisiana Tax Commission forced one parish to reappraise homeowners and small businesses causing an increase of $25 million of assessed value. The following year, the Louisiana Tax Commission reduced the oil and gas properties in that same parish by S30 million of assessed value.

While the Tax Commission has serious public service problems, the Board of Commerce and Industry is much worse. The Board of Commerce and Industry has granted 10-year exemptions to newspapers, cotton gins, electric utilities, grain elevators, storage facilities, docks, wharfs, bulk heads and even a bankrupt company despite a constitutional requirement that recipients be "manufacturing establishments." Exemptions are given for repairs and are called "capital additions".

Unlike other states, the assessor, local governing authority or local school system is not involved in a 10-year exemption in Louisiana.

Despite the laws in this state, the Board of Commerce and Industry granted exemptions to industrial taxpayers who took over 20 years to complete their projects. Therefore, the 10-year exemption law is ignored by the Board of Commerce and Industry. Local communities must bear the tax burden for these industries.

When an elected official (tax assessor) knows that certain taxpayers (public service) assessed by the Louisiana Tax Commission are receiving favorable treatment from an appointed official (La. Tax Comm.) appointed by the governor in his or her local jurisdiction, there is a tendency to under assess all properties in order to maximize tax benefits to all taxpayers.

Assessors, who are taxpayers, want a Tax Commission and a Board of Commerce and Industry that will treat all property owners fairly.

Clyde A. Gisclair, Assessor
St. Charles Parish

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