Bend Over Louisiana Because John Bel Wants More Of Your Money

Louisiana’s new liar-in-chief, John Bel Edwards, and his transition team released their tax reform ideas on Friday afternoon. Their ideas involve finding new way to gouge more money from the citizens from Louisiana.

Here’s what the Times-Picayune had to say, describing the Edwards proposals:

  • Two key changes to income taxes that are presented as options. The first is more difficult: Ask voters to approve removing the ability to deduct federal taxes from their state income taxes, which primarily benefits the wealthy because they tend to pay more in federal taxes. Louisiana is only one of just three states in the country that allows such an exemption, and it is enshrined in the state Constitution.

  • The second option is to return to the income tax brackets approved under the Stelly Plan, which was repealed in 2008. The Stelly Plan, which required middle- and upper-income taxpayers to pay more, is easier to enact because it doesn’t require asking for voter approval. As a state senator, current Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne helped pass the Stelly Plan.

  • Change how much, or eliminate altogether, how much in federal itemized deductions state residents can deduct from their state taxes.

  • Create a flat corporate tax rate, a change that would eliminate the three corporate tax rates. The committee recommends this only if state residents approve removing federal tax liability deductions from state income taxes.

  • Phase out corporate franchise taxes, which was proposed to help offset other tax increases during the last legislative session.

  • Reduce the tax credits businesses use to help lower their tax bills “by maintaining only those that are important to maintaining a competitive economy.” The reduction of tax credits was the primary way legislators closed the previous deficit, but most of the changes legislators passed were temporary. The committee also calls for putting sunsets on all tax credits permanently.

  • Expand sales taxes to “include certain services.” Although the committee gave only one example of this — applying a tax to printing services — this area is extremely broad and could apply to a vast range of services. To see what services could be taxed, a list from a 2013 proposal is here. Also, the committee recommends allowing other sales tax exemptions to expire and only restore those that “are the most significant” for economic growth.

  • Remove the tax exemption on business utilities. The exemption removed during the last legislative session is set to expire.

  • Consider making the telecommunications tax equivalent to the sales tax.

  • Increase the fuel tax to “be more in line with the national average.” The current gas tax is 20 cents per gallon; the national average is 30.5 cents per gallon. The recommendation also calls for the gas tax to increase with inflation. The current tax hasn’t been increased in 25 years.

  • Change the homestead exemption on property taxes to ensure that “everyone pays something in property taxes regardless of the value of the property.” Currently, the first $75,000 in the value of a property is exempted under the homestead exemption, meaning any property worth below $75,000 does not owe taxes.

  • Allow local governments more input on industrial property tax exemptions and reduce the maximum 10-year exemption to seven years. Also, change the exemption from 100 percent to 80 percent.

  • Enact a fee on oil and gas processing, a change that’s been pushed for yearsby Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, who was co-chairman of the committee that penned the report. The committee also includes eliminating the state severance tax and setting the tax rate “high enough to produce additional revenue without overburdening the industry or causing the relocation of facilities.”

Sources are telling The Hayride that the administration is going to make a major push for the oil and gas processing fee. Such a fee, especially in this time of low oil prices, would virtually destroy the oil industry. The oil industry in Louisiana is already suffering worse than in the oil bust of the 1980s.

There will also be a major push on the gasoline tax. This one though, the administration might be able to get away with due to near record low gas prices.

The media will make a major push for the return of Stelly-era tax rates. Commissioner of Administration Ephialtes will likely also support it. However, the administration will likely put its finger in the wind on it.

Overall, John Bel’s plan to balance the budget is to raise taxes. We’ll see what the House and its new Republican Speaker, Taylor Barras do about it.



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