La. Speaker of the House talks to Bossier Chamber

Stacey Tinsley | Bossier Press-Tribune

Bossier Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Lisa Johnson spoke with Louisiana Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder Thursday, May 27, to discuss the current legislative session, including his big bill of this fiscal session – creating centralized sales tax collection.

Schexnayder said that HB 199 is a huge step, for not only small businesses, but for all businesses in Louisiana.

“HB199 of course is the centralized sales tax. Which is a goal that we have set out many years ago to try to accomplish for our state to simplify our tax system. Especially for our small businesses,” said Schexnayder.

“This is not only a huge win for the state, but it’s a triple huge win for small businesses and other businesses out there. It’s going to help the process for them to be able to do a one stop shop. 

“We’re one of only three states that hasn’t joined in on this. It takes away no local power whatsoever. It does allow option in, if you want to go all in or just to keep your local tax collector there in the process. 

“I think it’s good to have a local guy there for your people who like to have that one on one conversation. I think this bill is a huge step forward. It’s definitely a huge step in some major tax reform that we are getting done this year.” 

Schexnayder went on to talk about specific issues that affect us locally, including the Jimmie Davis Bridge.

“On the Jimmie Davis Bridge, there will be some dollars that will be moved to help that project along and get it going. We can’t go and put all of the money in priority one because DOTD can not spend it in a year,” said Schexnayder.

“So lots of times, DOTD will tell us we can only spend a million or two million and will need the rest trailing so we can move it up. And that’s why you see some in a priority five or a priority one. Priority one is of course cash. Those trailing dollars are there. Hopefully DOTD can get to work on that as quickly as possible. I don’t know where it sits on their scheduling, but it’s a positive move for North Louisiana.”

House Bill 199, sponsored by Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, would create the state and local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission to handle all sales tax administration and collections. Cities, parishes and other tax authorities would retain their powers to set and levy taxes but no longer collect them. The legislation is one of a number of different tax reform bills that lawmakers are considering this session.

Louisiana’s current sales tax system relies on 54 different collecting agencies including individual parishes, cities, sheriffs, police juries, school boards and other government entities. The state also has the Tax Commission for Remote Sellers, which collects remittances from out-of-state businesses with customers in Louisiana. 

This system has made it difficult for certain in-state businesses, particularly web-based companies that sell to customers all over the state. Such a company must remit sales taxes to every jurisdiction in which it makes a sale. However, an out-of-state competitor with the same business model can remit all its sales taxes to a single entity — the Tax Commission for Remote Sellers.