A program to root out invalid homestead exemptions is paying dividends to Lafayette Parish agencies.
Two years ago, Assessor Conrad Comeaux asked local government agencies for help funding a homestead exemption mapping and validation program. Taxing bodies in the parish pay a pro rata share of the cost of the program.
Out of about 16,000 parcels of property investigated so far, the owners of about 400 or 2.5 percent are claiming homestead exemption in Lafayette Parish when they shouldn’t be, Comeaux said.
Some property owners may own homes in more than one parish or state and claim homestead exemptions on both. You’re only supposed to claim homestead exemption on a home that you own and occupy as your primary residence.
Homestead exemption is a state law that exempts a homeowner from paying property taxes on the first $75,000 in value of their home.
Putting those 400 properties back on the tax rolls brought in more than $200,000 to government entities that collect property taxes in Lafayette Parish, like Lafayette Consolidated Government. When the investigation is complete on all properties, the program could bring in $600,000 in property taxes, he said.
“That’s a home run in my book,” Comeaux said. “I didn’t expect it would generate that kind of money.”
It cost about $68,000 to check the first batch of properties, about one-third of the homestead exemptions claimed in Lafayette Parish.