This year there are eight constitutional amendments on the November 8 ballot. Some are a bit complicated, and all require a little homework before you cast your vote. To assist, we’re breaking the list into bite-size chunks. Leading up to the start of early voting on October 25, we will highlight one amendment every few days to give you the background and context you need to understand what they do. And for lagniappe, we offer CABL’s recommendations on each of them.
Amendment #8 Remove Requirement that Disabled Taxpayers Annually Certify their Income to Receive a Special Tax Break
What It Does: Removes the current constitutional requirement that homeowners who are permanently totally disabled must re-certify their income each year to maintain the “special assessment” they have that freezes the assessed value of their property.
Background: Louisiana currently has a “special assessment” for four groups of property owners in specialized circumstances which allows them to freeze the assessed value of their property to protect them from future property tax increases. This includes property owners who are permanently totally disabled. However, it applies only to homeowners with adjusted gross household incomes of $100,000 or less and it requires them to certify with the assessor each year that they meet the income criteria. Passage of this amendment would eliminate that requirement to recertify.
The constitution is filled with a litany of specialized tax breaks that apply to certain groups of people and the list seems to grow almost every year. While it’s true that this particular requirement for recertifying income eligibility does not apply to homeowners 65 years of age or older, it’s also true that voters considered what was basically this same amendment in 2014 and defeated it at the polls.
Comments: As we have said countless times over the years, we sympathize with the circumstances of all kinds of taxpayers in our state, most certainly those who are disabled. But we sometimes forget that disability does not necessarily correlate to household income. If it did, that would assume that a person with a disability, even though serious, could never work or earn a good salary. And presumably, the same would be true of their spouse. That’s simply not the case. It is not difficult to certify one’s income on an annual basis. If we are going to have special exemptions for some homeowners, then we should ensure that they are applied fairly, and the program is accountable to all taxpayers.
CABL Recommendation: OPPOSE