- Elliott Stonecipher
Sunday, April 8, 2018 …12:35 P.M.
Each year, over $1 billion flows from taxpayers to the City of Shreveport, the Caddo Parish School Board and the Caddo Parish Commission.
In 2010, on my own time and dime, I began studying how that money is gathered and spent.
The scrutiny has certainly, repeatedly exposed corrupt practices, systems and public officials.
Early on, I studied property taxes in Caddo and other comparable Louisiana parishes. The results, aired statewide by Louisiana Public Broadcasting, astounded many of us. (See program link below.)
Here, the official reaction was downright ugly. I had unknowingly thrown open a box of stuff taxpayers had not seen or understood, perhaps ever.
An example is learning just how hard our local taxers hit property owners …
… Shreveporters, some 80% of the Caddo Parish population, paid by far the highest property taxes in Louisiana … two- to three-times the property tax burden in many like parishes.
Shreveport home and other property owners pay the City of Shreveport 35.000-to-40.000 mills (depending on up and down bond issuance) on top of all parish property taxes.
All told, most Shreveport property owners pay some 170.000-mills in property taxes.
In 2013, I began tracking data showing who pays these taxes. The statistics are available only by parish, not city, but are nonetheless revealing. In Caddo …
… a 38% minority of householders directly pay property taxes, but ALL can vote them on us.
Obviously, those who own homes and other property pay these taxes. Too, we must presume they are included in rent payments, though we have no way of knowing how much.
Then, there are “100% Exempt” homesteads on the assessor’s books with values below our (state) $75,000 homestead exemption. These do not pay property taxes levied by parish / state taxers, but DO pay property taxes in their town / city (Shreveport, Vivian, Greenwood, etc.)
Here are counts of these categories, updated through 2017 (SEE below links to Census Bureau and Louisiana Tax Commission Annual Report data).
1. There are 97,479 households in Caddo Parish, of which 57,790 are “homesteads” subject to property tax.
2. Of those 57,790 homesteads, 20,741 are 100% tax exempt, and 37,049 are homesteads of those who directly pay property taxes.
3. Calculated among the whole of 97,479 households …
… 38.0% directly pay their property taxes (37,049 households),
… 21.3% are 100% exempt from parish / state property taxes (20,741 households), and
… 40.7% are rented / leased (non-owner occupied) with property taxes paid as a part of rent (39,689 households).
And – yes – it is certainly true that any registered voter, including those who do not pay property taxes, may legally vote these taxes on those of us who do.
Perhaps worst for us, Shreveport taxpayers who dare ask questions are viewed as the enemy by many local pols, especially our current mayor and some council members.
To them, none of this is ours to question, and we have no right to expect – much less demand – transparency, accountability and adherence to the rule of law.
Many believe such treatment, in return for such high taxes, is a lousy deal. So they leave.
© 2018 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
1. LPB property tax program:
2. Louisiana Tax Commission Annual Report (report page 41, Table No. 44):
3. U. S. Census Bureau, Caddo Parish Quick Facts, “Households 2012-2016”