What does the Assessor do?
The Assessor is required by the Louisiana Constitution to list, value, and enumerate
all property subject to ad valorem taxation on an assessment roll each year. The
"ad valorem" basis for taxation means that all property should be taxed "according
to value". The assessed value is a percentage of "Fair Market Value" or "Use Value"
as prescribed by the Constitution.
What the Assessor does not do.
The Assessor does not raise or lower taxes. The assessor does not make the laws
which affect property owners. The Constitution of the State of Louisiana, as adopted
by the voters, provides the basic framework for taxation, and tax laws are made
by the Louisiana Legislature. The rules and regulations for assessment are set by
the Louisiana Tax Commission. The tax dollars are levied by the taxing bodies, such
as the police jury, school board, library, and are collected by the Sheriff's Office
as Ex-Officio Tax Collector. The assessor's office has nothing to do with the total
amount of taxes collected. The assessor's primary responsibility is to find the
"fair market value" of your property so that you may only pay your fair share of
the taxes. The amount of taxes you pay is determined by a "tax rate" applied to
your property's assessed value. The "tax rate" is determined by all the taxing agencies
within a district, city, or parish, and those rates fixed by the Constitution. They
include school districts, police juries, law enforcement districts, etc. The tax
rate is the basis for the budget needed or demanded by the voters to provide for
services such as schools, roads, law enforcement, etc. Tax rates are simply those
rates which will provide funds to pay for those services.
The Assessor does not collect taxes.
By Constitutional law the Sheriff of each parish has been established as the Agency
to Collect and distribute the property taxes to the various agencies in each Parish.
The Washington Parish Tax Collector is responsible for mailing the tax notices and
collecting the taxes based on the assessments and the millage rates. The annual
parish tax notices are mailed out in November and are due by December 31 of that
year. Each municipality within the parish is responsible for mailing the tax notices
and collecting the taxes based on the assessments and the millage rates for that
municipality. The municipality sets these millage rates or tax rates. The different
governing bodies within the parish set millage rates for the parish. These governing
bodies include the Washington Parish School Board, Washington Parish Sheriff, Washington
Parish Council, and several others. Also, there may be additional millages set for
the individual Fire Districts, Recreation Districts, etc. that depend on where the
property is located.