taxes

Gov. Bobby Jindal went before the legislature Thursday to unveil his tax proposal. He wants to eliminate the income tax and says the state can make up the gap with a higher and more expansive sales tax.

The proposal would make Louisiana the state with the highest sales tax in the nation. Combined with local sales taxes, Louisianians would pay an average of 10.75 percent in sales tax. And the state would start taxing things that haven’t been taxed before – like landscaping, haircuts, and cable and Internet services.

 Governor Jindal’s administration has agreed to finish and release its proposal to overhaul the state’s tax system by the end of next week. In a reversal of the usual power-dynamic, Jindal is now yielding to pressure from legislators.

Speaker of the House Chuck Kleckley, who was hand-picked by the governor sent Jindal an open letter yesterday evening pressing for the release of details of his tax overhaul. He asked that the plan be released to legislators by March 15 so that committees could properly debate it before session starts.

Lawmakers who spent months reviewing Louisiana's lengthy list of tax breaks are recommending more regular oversight and study of the credits, exemptions and rebates.

In its final report released Tuesday, the Revenue Study Commission didn't recommend getting rid of any specific tax breaks.

Instead, the 14-member panel provided two lists for possible legislative action: one of underused or expired tax breaks and the second of tax breaks where questions were raised by a commission member about a program's value.

State Sen. Dan Claitor wants to add tax rebates to the list of matters that can only be considered in odd-numbered years, when the constitution mandates lawmakers take up fiscal issues. Generally, even-numbered years are reserved for non-fiscal deliberations. The constitutional amendment would require two-thirds approval in the legislature and a vote of the people.

Tax exclusions, exemptions, deductions, credits, and refunds are already limited to fiscal years.

Gov. Bobby Jindal's tax reform proposals may include raising the tobacco excise tax. Health officials have suggested raising the tax by a dollar per pack. A study shows raising the tax by that much would raise $223 million a year – that’s almost enough to have closed this year’s $240 million budget gap. 

Jindal has said his tax reforms would be revenue neutral, replacing the income tax with higher sales tax.


The leader on Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposed tax code rewrite, Tim Barfield, says the administration wants to keep most of the state's economic development incentive programs as part of the revamp.

Many of the programs give credits or exemptions to income taxes.

Though Jindal is proposing to eliminate state income taxes in exchange for higher sales taxes, Barfield says the governor's proposal will keep modified versions of most of the incentive programs overseen by the Department of Economic Development.

Lawmakers are responding with caution to Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposal to eliminate Louisiana's income tax in exchange for higher sales taxes and other tax code changes.

Among specific concerns raised Friday by legislators who will decide the fate of the plan are how it will impact low- to middle-income families, how it will affect local sales tax collections and whether sales taxes are too unstable a revenue source on which to base a budget.

Jindal is floating the idea of a tax swap in advance of the legislative session that begins in April.

The state Department of Revenue will begin processing 2012 state individual income tax returns on Jan. 30.

On that date, officials say 2012 state individual income tax forms will be available on the department website, www.revenue.louisiana.gov/taxforms, at department offices and at public libraries throughout the state.

Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to eliminate Louisiana's personal and business income taxes, in exchange for higher state sales taxes and the removal of some tax breaks.

Jindal's shopping the idea to lawmakers, who will consider it in the regular session that begins in April. In a statement Thursday, the Republican governor said eliminating income taxes will "put more money back into the pockets of Louisiana families" and make the state more attractive to companies.

It was the first peak at proposals Jindal will offer as part of his tax code rewrite.

The New Orleans City Council is giving a break to bed-and-breakfast owners who are late paying the room tax rate of 50 cents per day for each occupied room.

The Times-Picayune reports that the penalty has often been much more than the amount due.

The late penalty was at least $500. Council President Stacey Head told the council that the tax for a typical B&B averages less than $60 a month.

Pages