Bill to centralize Louisiana sales tax collection advances to House floor

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Another Louisiana House committee has endorsed changing the state constitution to centralize sales tax collection.

The committee focused on civil law and procedure unanimously agreed Tuesday to send the bill to the full House. The House tax-writing committee signed off last week with only one objection.

House Bill 199 by Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder would create an eight-member board to oversee tax collections statewide. Traditionally under Louisiana’s unusual system, local officials have collected local taxes, which they have argued ensures they get their revenue in a timely manner and can spend the money they way local taxpayers and voters want it spent.

Michael Ranatza, executive director of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association, conceded that not all of his members are on board, but he said a clear majority voted to support the change because local officials would have an equal say with the state. Sheriffs and state organizations representing school boards, police juries and municipalities each would have a representative.

Streamlining and simplifying sales tax collection is the top priority in this year’s fiscal session for Schexnayder and many business advocates, who say the current system is overly complex for taxpayers to navigate. Business owners remain concerned about having to face multiple audits even under the new system; the legislation directs the new commission to streamline the audit process but doesn’t specify the details.