LAO: Louisiana businesses owed $785 million in unpaid state taxes last year

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office (LAO) reports that Louisiana-based businesses owed the state roughly $785 million in unpaid taxes at the end of Fiscal Year 2018.

During that year, the state’s Department of Revenue collected approximately $9.2 billion across all tax types.

Roughly 70 percent of unpaid business collections are sales or employers withholding taxes that businesses collected but did not remit to the state.

The state’s department to enforce tax collection, the Business Tax Enforcement division, has seen staff decreases over the last few years, by 8.3 percent, the LAO notes.

In its new report, the LAO recommends that the department can strengthen its collections ability by upgrading its tax software, and prioritizing newer cases instead of older ones, which is the current practice.

It also recommends that the department use data to determine which collection methods are most effective, simplify voluntary compliance by making tax letters easier to understand, make its website more user-friendly, and improve its call center.

The Department of Revenue said in response to the LAO report that it plans to upgrade its software this fiscal year, and is in discussions with a vendor to do so.

The department also said it is “keenly aware” of which processes and procedures best generate payments and are looking at ways to make it easier for taxpayers to pay delinquent taxes through installment agreements.

Department officials also said they are updating their website and re-opening regional offices to help taxpayers in person in a local office.

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