Louisiana tax credit usage helped cause last year’s expected deficit

    Louisiana’s expected deficit for last year is driven at least partially by people and businesses cashing in on more tax refunds and credits than anticipated, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief budget adviser tells The Associated Press.

    Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says it’s likely the state closed the books on the last budget year in the red. But she said the numbers aren’t complete, and she wouldn’t release any details about how large she expects the gap to be in the 2014-15 fiscal year that ended June 30.

    House Speaker Chuck Kleckley and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin have both said they’ve been told by the Jindal administration that the state ended last year with a deficit. Among the causes, Nichols says tax credit and refund filings are higher than expected, particularly in the film tax credit program.

    “The largest issue that we’re working to finalize is just the general accounting of everything and how the tax refunds play into that number,” she says.

    Lawmakers enacted a new cap on the film tax credits in the current budget year to help close a massive shortfall and protect public colleges and health care services from steep cuts. A maximum of $180 million in film tax credits can be cashed in annually. The cap kicked in July 1 and expires after three years.

    Nichols says it’s likely people filed for film credits earlier than usual to ensure they could use them, rather than risk running into problems with the cap.

    The Jindal administration will disclose the size of the deficit in mid-October, at a meeting of the joint House and Senate budget committee. Treasurer John Kennedy says his office has done preliminary estimates that suggest the shortfall will top $100 million. Auditors will comb through the figure, with a final number not expected until January.

    Read the full story by The Associated Press.

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