Johns’ bill to freeze property assessments for senior citizens advances

By By John Guidroz / American Press

BATON ROUGE — A constitutional

amendment that would allow anyone over 65, regardless of income, to

freeze their property assessments

made its way out of a Senate committee on Monday.

The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee voted 7-2 in favor of Senate Bill 74 by Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur. It heads

to the Senate floor for consideration.

Under the measure, income restrictions would not apply to people 65 or older or their surviving spouses. The current income

threshold is $69,463.

Johns said about 74 percent of people 65 and older fall under the current income level.

“This doesn’t really affect a whole lot of people,” he said.

Johns said tax assessors support the legislation because it is difficult for them to monitor signed affidavits that may have

falsified income levels.

“Once that affidavit is signed, the assessor really has no recourse to investigate that income level,” he said. “So it has

become a real burden on how the assessors do this.”

John LeBlanc, with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, opposed the measure, saying he considered it a “tax

shift” instead of a tax break.

“Someone is going to pay more than other taxpayers,” he said.

A special assessment would remain in

place for people who are members of the armed forces or the Louisiana

National Guard

who are killed in action, missing in action or are a prisoner of

war for more than 90 days. It also exists for people who

are permanently disabled, or those who have a service-connected

disability rating of at least 50 percent by the U.S. Department

of Veterans Affairs’ standards.

The measure requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate. If approved, it would go before voters Nov. 4, 2014.