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Private company approved to go after fraudulent homestead exemptions, if governing agencies agree

8 years 1 month 4 weeks ago Wednesday, March 23 2016 Mar 23, 2016 March 23, 2016 8:43 PM March 23, 2016 in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Trey Schmaltz

BATON ROUGE – The Baton Rouge Metro Council approved the East Baton Rouge Parish Assessor's request to hire a third-party service to go after people who are fraudulently claiming homestead exemption.

The assessor, Brian Wilson, said he wants to have Tax Management Associates investigate properties that should not be claimed under homestead exemption.  TMA would review filings from 2015, bill property owners who owe and keep 40% of what is collected.  Since multiple governing bodies tax property, each has to agree to the proposal. Wilson is working to get the remaining agencies to sign off on the plan.

Wilson said TMA would only review taxes from 2015 and be hired every few years.  He added, he could not estimate the number of fraudulent homestead exemption filings but TMA research from other cities shows typically 1% of properties are in violation. Since properties are likely scattered across the parish and will have different values, he could not pinpoint a dollar amount that could be collected.

On its website, TMA reports it uses a list of exempt properties and reference data to determine ownership and occupancy.  Then, staff contacts residents to verify their information and returns the findings to governments.  TMA sells services that also assist local agencies with processing the data.

Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz

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