Baton Rouge Representative Steve Carter is bringing a constitutional amendment in the upcoming session that would allow local governments to lower the homestead exemption. Currently the exemption, which gives homeowners a substantial tax break, is controlled at the state level. Carter says it would give locals a new way to fund vital projects.

“We’ll let the locals have the opportunity, if they are interested in lowering their homestead exemption because they have a major project, or something that they want to find dollars for.”

The exemption ignores 10 percent of a houses market value, up to a total of 75,000 dollars in ignored value, for the purposes of property tax assessment.
Carter says passing this would mean locals would no longer have to beg at the Capitol to get construction funds.

“Any time that you want a project done locally, their hands are tied by the constitution, they can’t find ways to generate money.”

Independent analysis shows local governments in Louisiana have far less control of their finances compared to other southern states.

The amendment would first require two thirds support in the legislature to make it onto the fall ballot, where it would then need to be approved by a majority of voters. Carter says at that point, local voters would still have a final say on homestead exemption rates in their own back yards…

“It would go to a vote of the people, and if they say they want to allow them to lower the homestead exemption, then whatever the project is that they want to do would have to become a vote of the people to allow them to do it.”

Because of the exemption, about a third of homes statewide did not pay property taxes.