How to Get Your CATS Tax Back

If you own residential or commercial property inside the city limits of Baton Rouge or Baker, you could be getting a property tax refund, if the 10.6-mill CATS property tax is ruled unconstitutional in the pending legal case of Graugnard v. CATS.
However, even if Milton Graug-nard, the plaintiff in the suit, wins, the only way to be certain you will get your refund is to file a letter of protest at the time you pay your property taxes each and every year.
The reason is that CATS is spending the tax money it receives as it is collected.  If CATS loses the suit, it will probably have no way to repay taxpayers for the taxes illegally collected.
CATS is a creation of the state government. So the City-Parish government and the Metro Council have no obligation to pay its debts.  Likewise, the State of Louisiana is probably not liable for CATS’ debts.
Under Louisiana law, a property taxpayer can protest what he believes to be an illegal tax, and that tax payment will be held in escrow until pending litigation involving the tax is resolved.
In the case of the CATS tax, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux is holding in escrow all payments made by parish taxpayers under protest.
About $400,000 is now being held in that account.  It will be distributed either to CATS or to taxpayers, depending on the outcome of the suit.
If a taxpayer filed a protest last year, he must file again this year and every year until the matter is resolved.  The attorney for Milton Graugnard said Tuesday that the litigation could drag on for two years or more.
If a taxpayer did not file a protest last year, he can still file one for this year and again each subsequent year.
The letter at left is a sample of what could be filed by a taxpayer.  If cannot be filed until the taxpayer has received his tax notice for the year, because it must include the number found on the property tax notice for the year.
If property taxes have already been paid for 2012, it is too late to file a protest for that year.  However, if property taxes have not been paid for 2012, the protest letter could still be filed when those taxes are paid.
The CATS property tax is 10.6 mills a year.  That’s about 1/10th of one per cent of the actual value of the property each year.  So a property valued at $400,000 and assessed at $40,000 would pay about $400 a year.  Commercial property would pay about 50 percent more.
This is a news article, not legal advice.  So check with an attorney if necessary.

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