Sales tax centralization bill clears another hurdle in state Senate 

A proposal to amend the Louisiana Constitution and centralize the state’s sales tax collection took another step forward today.

As The Center Square reports, the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee advanced HB199 by House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, without objection, though sticking points remain that likely won’t be resolved in the current session.

Under Louisiana’s unusual system, local officials have control of local sales tax collection, which they have argued ensures they get their money quickly and are able to spend it as local taxpayers and voters want it spent. Business advocates, however, say the system is difficult to navigate for companies that sell in multiple jurisdictions, particularly for small companies or companies from outside the state that are unfamiliar with Louisiana’s complex tax structure.

The U.S. Supreme Court may have added urgency to the debate with its Wayfair decision, which cleared the way for states to charge sales tax on internet sales by out-of-state companies, but said states placing an “undue burden” on interstate commerce could run afoul of the U.S. Constitution.

The state revenue department oversees sales tax collection in most states. In the task force discussions that led to HB199’s creation, representatives of local officials didn’t want to give up their authority to a purely state-controlled entity, says Jason DeCuir, who chaired the group.

The bill calls for an eight-person commission, with four representing state interests and four representing local officials. At least two-thirds of them would have to agree to change commission policy. Read the full story.