Proposed bill would change sales tax collection

In a unanimous vote, the St. Charles Parish Council passed a resolution opposing a proposed state measure aimed at bringing sales tax collection from local government to a state central collection system.

HB 57 is being considered by the Louisiana Legislature in the spring session, and would authorize the Legislature to collect all sales and use taxes imposed by any taxing authority in the state.

Councilwoman Mary Clulee requested fellow council support in opposing the measure, as well as asked the Police Jury Association of Louisiana be advised of their position on the bill. The association opposes the bill.

Council Chair Julia Fisher-Perrier questioned the possible ramifications of changing who collects sales tax, such as revenue being sent to another parish.

“It needs to stay here and the Internet sales tax will be worked out,” she said.

Councilman Paul Hogan added, “Local governments should continue handling their own taxes.”

Although the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has endorsed the bill, saying it would bring Louisiana’s collection of sales tax into the 21st century, the bill is considered one of the most controversial issues facing the Legislature this session.

But Paula Haydel-Jeansonne, general counsel and director of tax collections with St. Charles Parish and the parish’s School Board, said centralization is not that simple.

“The state’s sales tax base is different from local governments,” Haydel-Jeansonne said. “Special interest groups lobby and receive tax exemptions from the state that would financially devastate a local jurisdiction. Unlike most states, we have a system that requires local governments to fund themselves. All the taxes we collect matter. Collections that are material to our parish will probably not be from the state’s perspective.”

“Unlike most states, we have a system that requires local governments to fund themselves. All the taxes we collect matter.” – Paula Haydel-Jeansonne

NFIB maintains Louisiana’s sales tax system is a mess and is one of only two states in the nation without a centralized tax collection system. In most states, stores send sales tax revenue to a single agency, but in Louisiana the state’s parishes collect the tax with local sales tax collectors and more than 100 different sales tax jurisdictions.

The bill would make it easier to run a business in Louisiana by simplifying the collection and eliminating the need to keep pace with different rules per parish, according to NFIB. The issue comes in for an owner with two or more stores in different parishes. The NFIB maintains simplifying the collection would make it easier to run a business.

While the St. Charles Parish Council argued the bill would not keep tax dollars local, NFIB says HB 57 would not cost the parish any sales tax revenue or affect how much the parish receives.

Should sales tax collections change?

  • HB 57 would create a state-level central collection point for sales tax if approved by the Louisiana Legislature.
  • Rep. Tanner Mcgee introduced HB 57 calling for a constitutional amendment to centralize sales tax collections on the state level.
  • Businesses support the move aimed at simplifying the sales tax collection system. The legislation also comes as a special state panel has been working for nearly a year on rules and specialized software to require consolidated collection of Internet sales by the state.

 

About Anna Thibodeaux 2071 Articles
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