By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor
New analysis shows Louisiana’s top corporate income tax rate is the 15th highest in the nation, a reality critics contend is holding the state back.
Analysis from the Tax Foundation released Tuesday shows that out of the 44 states that levy a corporate income tax, Louisiana’s top 7.5% rate ranks 15th from the top, the highest in the region.
Neighboring Texas does not levy a corporate income tax and instead imposes a gross receipts tax on businesses, while Arkansas’ 5.3% rate ranked 33rd, and Mississippi’s 5% rate ranked 34th.
“The rate is too high, 7.5% ranking 15th in the nation means Louisiana is less competitive, especially with its neighbors,” Vance Ginn, chief economist at the Pelican Institute, told The Center Square.
Ginn noted that the corporate income tax ranking follows a previous report from the Tax Foundation that ranked Louisiana as the 12th lowest state for business tax climate, a measure that takes into account other factors.
He contends lawmakers can take action to improve the situation.
“What we’ve been looking at is finding ways to flatten the corporate income tax,” Ginn said, noting that the state’s current system has three brackets.
Reducing the three brackets into one would help in the short term, he said, but the long-term focus should be on “eliminating the income tax and finding ways to limit government spending,” he said.
“What we’ve been looking at is using surplus funds to buy down the corporate tax,” Ginn said.
Louisiana “really ultimately needs to be more competitive,” he said. “People are moving out. Businesses are moving out.”
Ginn pointed to recent U.S. Census data that shows 67,508 residents left the Pelican State between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2022, with most of the loss through domestic migration.
The Tax Foundation identified 44 states that levy a corporate income tax, which ranged from North Carolina’s 2.5% rate to 11.5% in New Jersey. Behind the Garden State is Minnesota at 9.8%, Illinois at 9.5%, and Alaska and Pennsylvania, which levy top corporate tax rates of 9.4% and 8.99%, respectively.
There are 11 states with top rates at or below 5%. North Carolina is followed by Missouri and Oklahoma at 4%, North Dakota at 4.31%, Colorado at 4.55%, Utah at 4.85%, Arizona and Indiana at 4.9%, and Kentucky, Mississippi, and South Carolina at 5%.
Nevada, Ohio, Texas, and Washington use a gross receipts tax instead of corporate income taxes, while Delaware, Oregon, and Tennessee impose both gross receipts taxes and corporate income taxes.
“Though often thought of as a major tax type, corporate income taxes accounted for an average of just 7.07% of state tax collections and 4.04% of state general revenue in fiscal year 2021,” according to the report. “And while these figures are not high, they represent a substantial increase over prior years. Corporate income taxes accounted for 2.26% of general revenue in FY 2020, which is more in line with historical norms.”