Centralized tax push moves forward

By T. Scott Boatright

A proposal to amend the Louisiana Constitution and centralize sales tax collection in took another step forward Monday.

The Senate’s Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee advanced House Bill 199 by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder without objection, though sticking points remain that likely won’t be resolved in the current session.

Under Louisiana’s unique system, local officials have control of local sales tax collection, which they have argued ensures they get their money quickly and are able to spend it as local taxpayers and voters want it spent. Business advocates, however, said the system is difficult to navigate for companies that sell in multiple jurisdictions, particularly for small companies or companies from outside the state that are unfamiliar with Louisiana’s complex tax structure.

In order to pass legislation would require two-thirds support from the House and Senate and backing from voters in a statewide election.

If the Constitutional amendment is approved, lawmakers will also have to work out implementation details before the process could begin.

Louisiana sales taxes are currently collected by school boards of each parish, making Louisiana only one of three states in the country that does not have a centralized sales tax collection system along with Colorado and Hawaii.

One of the primary complaints listed in a Lincoln Parish Police Jury resolution opposing the bill in its current form is the lack of the aforementioned companion bill — details of the proposal to centralize sales tax collection and deal with the audit process involved in such.

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