Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- Thousands of real estate transfers take place in Louisiana each year, and, so far, those transfers have gone mostly tax-free. An amendment on the Nov. 19 ballot seeks to keep things just the way they are.
"The entire state doesn't have anything like this right now. The only municipality that has it is New Orleans, which is a $325 document fee," said Letitia Clark George, government affairs director for the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors.
Amendment 1 would prohibit the state and local municipalities from adding a tax on the buying or selling of real estate.
"We think it's important because it suppresses sales generally and nobody want to know they bought their house plus tax," said New Orleans-based realtor Joe Ory.
The way the ballot language is written, a vote in favor of the amendment means there would not be any added taxes on real estate transfers. As it stands now, Louisiana is one of 13 states which does not tax the transfers. Supporters of the amendment say it is a preventative measure.
"We're trying to be proactive, we're trying to protect home ownership and future home buyers in Louisiana and stop this type of thing early so it doesn't stifle the real estate market," Clark George said.
Opponents of the measure, though, say there is no reason for the amendment to be voted on now, since there have been no moves to add a tax in the first place. They also say that, in the future, it could limit the way local municipalities generate money.
"Our position is always been that local governments need a mix of sources, if they're going to have a stable and fair tax base," said Janet Howard of the Bureau of Governmental Research. "And that the best place for making a decision in to how something is going to impact individuals or our market is at the local level -- not at the state level."
The current $325 document fee on real estate transfers in Orleans Parish would be grandfathered in to the amendment.