Bills could change tax setup in parish
Parish leaders against handing over sales tax collection, distribution
House bills 440, 442 and 453 are three pieces of legislation that would remove the responsibility of sales tax collection and disbursement from local governments and place that authority with the Louisiana Department of Revenue.
The Louisiana Constitution currently grants local governments that right, but state Speaker of the House Jim Tucker and District 94 Rep. Nicholas Lorusso have proposed amendments giving the state full authority to collect, administer and enforce local sales and use taxes.
House Bill 440 would give the state that authority, while the other bills would set up the bureaucracy to allow the state to collect and distribute sales taxes.
Parish leaders are against the bill
The St. Charles Parish School Board is leading the local opposition to the bill because they are in charge of collecting sales tax in the parish. Sales Tax Director Paula Haydel-Jeansonne says that the local governments understand the businesses in their parish better than the state.
“We are not only a collector of taxes, but we assist our taxpayers in complying with the sales tax laws,” Haydel-Jeansonne said. “Taking the collection responsibility away from the local governments and giving it to the state would be a disadvantage to the general public. Collections would undoubtedly decrease.”
Haydel-Jeansonne believes that the three bills will eventually be withdrawn.
The board also passed a resolution urging every member of the St. Charles Parish Legislative Delegation to vigorously oppose the bills. The resolution also says that the school board believes that auditing done by the locals and the state helps provide a level playing field among businesses and ensures that parishes, cities and school boards collect revenues it would otherwise not collect if limited by those bills.
St. Charles Parish Council Chairman Dennis Nuss says he has not fully investigated the issue, but doesn’t believe the bills would benefit the parish.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Nuss said. “I don’t see what benefit it would provide us locally and it would take a good deal of power out of our hands. If the state can provide us with some benefit, then I might be for it, but I haven’t seen any benefits so far.”
The council also passed a resolution that mirrored the school board’s at their last meeting.
Sheriff Greg Champagne says that even though he doesn’t collect sales taxes in the parish, he and other sheriffs around the state are strongly against the measure.
“The local parishes and sheriffs are doing too good and thorough a job of collecting sales taxes,” Champagne said. “This is why certain interests want it removed from the parishes. I don’t think it is a good idea.”
Parish President V.J. St. Pierre agrees, and says that he shares the same opinion as the school board.
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