Sunday, March 01, 2009

"It's really tacky and the Legislature should change it."

Couldn't say it any better myself.

Will anyone in the Legislature from New Orleans step up to the plate?



Gotta give it up to the T-P's Kate Moran for an excellent piece profiling a filing loophole that helps really rich d-bags avoid accurate property tax assessments. People like celebrity personal injury attorney Morris Bart are not paying their legal fair share and it's a bunch of BS.

State law requires buyers and sellers of real estate to include the price of their transaction on the deed, but consumers wanting to shield their personal business from neighbors, employers or former spouses sometimes skirt the requirement by entering a nominal sum such as that

The practice creates a minor headache for real estate agents, who like to keep up with price trends in different neighborhoods, and a more serious conundrum for property tax assessors, who rely on the sale price to determine the fair market value of a home. It can also lead to inequities in tax assessments.


Personal injury attorney Morris Bart and his wife purchased their home on Audubon Place for $4.5 million in 2007, a price that was likewise not disclosed on the deed. Sixth District Assessor Nancy Marshall valued the home at $3.29 million, a figure she said was based on the prevailing price per square foot in the gated subdivision. Bart's law office said he was traveling and could not be reached for comment.

It's a totally stupid loophole. The costs totally outweigh the benefits and it needs to be closed. Seems like a no-brainer.


The best part of the article described an effort to close the loophole from the recent past:

Early this decade, the assessor in Lafayette led a push for the Legislature to create such a disclosure. The assessor, Conrad Comeaux, said the effort failed because legislators could not decide who would pay for processing the form or who would enforce its filing. Clerks of court did not want to perform the job on behalf of assessors, and many assessors felt their offices did not have the money or the staff to handle more paperwork.

I'm having a hard time describing how I feel about that paragraph. In many ways, it is emblematic of Louisiana politics and Louisiana media in that it glosses over a totally ridiculous and incredible example of governmental incompetence as legitimate or quotidian. I mean how hard is it to determine who is responsible for filing a paper form. A paper form!!! It's one of those things that you accidentally stop getting angry about the longer you follow Louisiana politics. It's not like there are plenty of other ridiculous examples from plenty of other ridiculous states but there's a certain special frequency in Louisiana. . . You know what I mean?


Anyway, now that everything is filed electronically we won't have to have a childish turf war over who has to file the paperwork, right? So closing the loophole that protects rich people from paying their proper property tax should be relatively easy, right? Anyone want to step up to the plate and offer this in the Legislature? Any legitimate reason to keep the system as is?


Mark Folse said...

I'm sure many of these are the same people driving around in expensive cars with out of state plates even though they clearly live here.

I pay my taxes and my ridiculous Louisiana and Orleans Parish insurance rates, and I'm getting fed up with people who have the Leona Helmsley view of taxes and insurance.

Karen said...

We have been clamoring for the disclosure of property history for a long long time.

Up until recently you could see the history of sales on a property.

After much clamoring it has been reinstated, sort of..Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not.

Anonymous said...

I find it amazing that no one has bothered to look at how the new assessments have transfered the tax burden from the higher incomes to the middle class and working poor. This push for new assessments came after Katrina when the uptown elite were freaked out about the consequences of their plan to demlolish most of the middle class black neighborhoods--thus reducing the tax base. Who would pay for the schools and city services?

I think it would take very little digging (probably one call to a pissed-off assessor who is losing his job) to find out what a scam this was--all in the name of good government. I know so many people who went from no paying little taxe (exemption) to $3,000. Since the total revenue stays the same (millages are reduced) this is a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich. Keep in mind that renters are paying the new tax bill that the Business Council pushed through, since commercial properties are not expempt and landlords pass on taxes to renters.

I'll bet we will find that the percentage of total tax revenue has shifted dramatically from the top 10% of property values to the bottom 25%. Sounds like a groundbreaking investigative report by E!

Civitch said...

This is the real-estate version of the inexcusable and only-in-Looziana "counter letter," which allows publicy recorded contracts to be changed, even rescinded, by private, unrecorded agreement.

This and the counter-letters are perfect examples of how *everyone* - except the well-connected - benefits from transparency in government.

bayoustjohndavid said...

I agree with the general point of the article, but let's not be either stupid or disingenuous; I'm really getting sick of articles that act like or imply that property should be appraised at 2006/2007 prices -- peak of the national and the post-Katrina bubbles.

Pistolette said...

Ah yes, class warfare. Let me grab my pitchfork. Grar. Whatever.

Maybe the rich wouldn't mind paying their taxes if the city didn't use their money so incompetently. After all, their tax money goes to schools they cannot use and police that do not protect them - all overseen by a racist, selfish, corrupt city government elected by well-fed plebeians with emperor envy. Yah, can't imagine why they'd avoid that pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Are there rich white people on this blog? I thought they had

But "let the rich take advantage of us because blacks take advantage of us" is a perfect example of the motive force of history of the South since the defeat of Reconstruction: the wealthy white elites use the corruption of black elected officials to rally the white middle class and poor to destroy themsleves in their efforts to destroy black political power. In 1898, when blacks were disfranchised, the majority of poor whites lost the vote as well. But at least white minority rule prevailed, which is what whites want in New Orleans today.

And, oh, by the way, whites had taken over the schools in November of 2005 before the tax "reform" was passed in 2006. So why would the rich not want to pay there fair share of our white-run "world class schools"--unless those are a fraud too.

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