Parishes expand ITEP reporting to tax rolls

A growing number of Louisiana parishes are reporting which companies receive property tax breaks under the Industrial Tax Exemption Program—and how much money in taxes they are being exempted—on the parish tax rolls.

Ascension Parish has been reporting that information on its tax rolls for a few years. Iberville Parish began doing so last year, says Assessor Randy Sexton.

East Baton Rouge Parish residents can now view the data as well on the assessor’s website. Industrial tax exemptions were previously not reported on the parish tax rolls, the way homestead exemptions have been for years.

The new requirement comes at the request of the Louisiana Tax Commission, says East Baton Rouge Assessor Brian Wilson.

“It’s something the tax commission had requested, starting this year, for all parishes to put the (ITEP) 10-year exemptions on the tax rolls,” Wilson says.

Louisiana Tax Commission officials did not return requests for comment.

Together Baton Rouge, a frequent ITEP critic, praised the new requirement, saying that the group approached Gov. John Bel Edwards about the matter in late 2017. Together Baton Rouge says it requested the tax commission issue guidance to parish assessors mandating ITEP exemptions be reported on public tax rolls.

“Local taxing bodies and the public at-large typically are entirely unaware of how much industrial exemptions are costing their communities in foregone revenue,” Together Baton Rouge says in an email.

The new requirement is a “significant development” that allows local authorities to account for the costs of industrial tax breaks when deciding whether to grant new ITEP requests, the group says.

The Governor’s Office, in a statement, says it has been aware for some time of public interest in adding more complete property tax exemption information to tax rolls across Louisiana.

“We support parish and local officials’ efforts to enhance transparency about exemption information in all of their public records, including information on the Industrial Tax Exemption Program,” says Edwards spokesperson Shauna Sanford.