By Christopher J. Dicharry Assessors are charged with the duty of determining the fair market value of business and residential property in Louisiana so that annual ad valorem property taxes can be imposed. This duty to determine fair market value is modified by a duty to insure that assessments are uniform. That is, similar properties should have similar assessments. In order to balance these duties, assessors are required to reassess real estate at least every four years so as to bring all properties up to a uniform fair market value. (Movable property (i.e. personal property), including machinery and equipment, is reappraised based on schedules issued by the Louisiana Tax Commission on an annual basis). Over the years many assessors have increased the value of individual properties when they are sold. Thus, the new owner gets a higher assessment and higher taxes than the owners of similar properties that have not sold. In Club New Orleans, Inc. v. Board of Review, La. Tax Commission docket numbers 04-22172-001 and 04-22172-002 (July 6, 2005), the Louisiana Tax Commission prohibited a New Orleans area assessor from increasing the value of a single property that had recently sold since the assessor had not increased the value of all similar properties. In the Club New Orleans case, the Louisiana Tax Commission ordered that a New Orleans French Quarter property that sold for $1,200,000 be assessed based on a fair market value of $208,610, a 15% increase from the prior year assessment because similar properties had increased only 15% from the prior year. This decision is particularly important right now since the rolls are open in many parishes and taxpayers who have recently bought property can object to the value being increased to the sales price. Taxpayers who have purchased property since the last reappraisal (in some parishes maybe as long as four years ago) should contact their assessor to confirm that the assessor has not increased the value of their property without making uniform adjustment to other properties in the area. If an assessor does not agree to an adjustment, the taxpayer must file a timely appeal of the assessor’s determination with the local Board of Review. Download a copy of the Club New Orleans decision. Click here for a copy of the Tax Commission rules regarding appeals. For help with property and other Louisiana taxation issues contact Chris Dicharry.