Calcasieu Parish Tax Assessor Wendy Curphy Aguillard. (Brad Puckett / American Press)
Last Modified: Friday, July 06, 2012 6:14 PM
To qualify for a senior citizen freeze on home assessment, Calcasieu Parish residents must be 65 years old and have a yearly household income less than $67,760, said Wendy Curphy Aguillard, parish tax assessor.
“Prior to my administration, the income was not being verified,” Aguillard said. “They may have come in and signed for their freeze without their income being verified, but the law says that we have to verify that income and my administration is doing that by the law.”
Aguillard took office in November, but had served as interim tax assessor since January 2011.
Household income is measured by adjusted gross income on tax returns, Aguillard said.
Houses that have had major improvements since they were last assessed do not qualify for the freeze, Aguillard said.
Qualifying senior citizens can get home assessments frozen by bringing proof of their age and income to the tax assessor’s office, she said.
Senior citizens who can’t make it to the office can mail or fax the information — on verification of the information, her office shreds the documents — or set up an appointment for a tax assessor employee to go to the home to verify the information.
“We’re making it as simple and painless as we can for them,” Aguillard said.
Calcasieu Parish is in the midst of a reassessment year, which occurs every four years.
Aguillard said her office is fielding questions about why property values are increasing even though the country has been through an economic swoon.
She said her office compares what is now on the tax rolls to current sales data and tries to assess the home close to fair market value.
“Even when people argue that it’s a down market, I still have to make adjustments to get property values closer to fair market values,” she said.
She concedes there will be some errors, so she urges those with questions to contact her office.
“We do mass appraisals and use averages, so there’s still going to be some that are a little low and some that are a little high,” Aguillard said. “Nobody’s going to complain to me if it’s a little low, they’re only going to complain if it’s a little high.
“They’re welcome to come into our office if they feel (we’ve) made an error. We’ll be glad to look at it again for them, make sure that our numbers are correct and correct anything that we have made an error on.”