Cheating may be too strong a word, but upwards of $1.4 million dollars in property taxes in Lafayette Parish are not being collected because residents are claiming the homestead exemption on property that is not their primary residence, a practice that runs counter to state law. But, according to The Advocate, the council on Tuesday night approved a partnership between the tax assessor’s office and a Mandeville software firm that says it can root out the estimated 3 to 5 percent of property owners abusing the exemption.

Under Louisiana law, homeowners can claim an exemption on the first $75,000 in the value of their home; the remainder is taxable. The Lafayette Parish Assessor’s office says it doesn’t have the resources to find the property owners who are abusing the exemption. The office will contract with the Mandeville company to do the job, and the company will only collect on the contract after delinquent taxes are collected by the various taxing entities in the parish.

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