The Louisiana chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business is lining up behind a constitutional amendment that would—over time and without definitive directives—create a centralized sales tax collection system within the state. While some details of the plan remain murky, the amendment’s purpose is clear. Rather than retailers and other businesses paying local sales taxes in each individual parish, there would be a one-stop, state-level shop.
While the temporary increase in the sales tax could very much be on the agenda in the upcoming regular session, the push by small business for the consolidation of collections in Baton Rouge could very well become the defining policy issue heading into the fall election cycle.
NFIB state director Dawn Starns said the goal is to get the amendment, expected to be authored by Rep. Tanner Magee, on the October ballot. If passed, the amendment likely would be headed for a January 2021 implementation. “That would give the Legislature the chance to educate itself, local governments the opportunity to explore the issue and lawmakers the shot to take their time creating statutory regulations,” she said.
Starns adds there are no current plans to create a statutory companion for the amendment. Instead, voters would get the first shot at eliminating one of only two dispersive state sales tax collection systems in the country. “The online sales tax component was the impetus for this, so it’s fitting that the Legislature would create the guidelines,” Starns said. “The legislation is broad for a reason, and at this point, we have got to move forward.”
The single collector system has long been opposed by local governments, as evidenced in earlier reporting, chiefly because control would shift from their backyards to Baton Rouge.
“I understand where local officials are coming from and they do a great job, so this shouldn’t be viewed as a punishment,” said Magee. “As we move forward we have to be able to adjust to an internet-based economy and we simply cannot have multiple collectors.”
Did you know? Of Louisiana’s 105 state House districts, only one—House District 28 in Avoyelles—has election lines that perfectly match the single parish it represents. That makes Rep. Robert Johnson of Marksville, the seat’s current occupant and the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, the only member of the lower chamber who represents just one parish in its entirety.
They said it: “There’s nothing dirty about the word surplus.”—State Sen. Gerald Long, on the state’s financial situation, in the Associated Press.