By: Jeremy Alford
Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed bills that seek to address perceived weaknesses in Louisiana’s property tax laws in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Act 488 by Rep. Damon Baldone, D-Houma, changes the day on which interest begins to accrue on delinquent property taxes from 30 days after the deadline for payment to the first day after deadline. “After Katrina, the Legislature gave taxpayers a little break, a bit of a grace period,” he says. “This brings it back to what it was prior to Katrina, since many people are now finally getting back to some semblance of a normal life. This also gives taxing districts the opportunity to get their money in a more timely fashion so they can work better with their budgets.” Interest currently accrues at a rate of 1 percent per month, which will not change under the new law. Jindal also signed Act 506 by Rep. Jerome “Dee” Richard of Thibodaux, who has no party affiliation. Playing off a concept that is related to Baldone’s bill, Richard’s legislation allows assessors to permit the postponement of property tax payments when a declaration of emergency is issued by a governor or parish president. The Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act allows the issuing of declarations for overflow, general conflagration, crop destruction, hurricanes or “other public calamity.” Assessors may also postpone payments in certain cases for residents who have lost their homes to an emergency or calamity, or those who would suffer a “substantial hardship” if they were to pay. Richard’s law officially takes effect on Jan. 1, 2009.