Congressional legislation aimed at sales tax collections for online shopping has prompted lengthy discussions recently over just how much states are losing to online retailers. In Louisiana, the staggering losses are in the neighborhood of $352 million for this year alone.
For shoppers looking to save a few bucks, online buying often means avoiding both the local and state sales taxes one would pay if purchases were made at a cash register. In the city limits of Lafayette, Duson, Carencro, Scott and Broussard, the local sales tax rate is 4 percent, combined with the state’s 4 percent sales tax for a total of 8 percent, according to the Lafayette Economic Development Authority’s website. In Youngsville, shoppers pay an 8.5 percent sales tax, while a number of economic development districts (aka TIFs) throughout the parish garner higher sales tax rates as shown in the accompanying chart provided by the Louisiana Association of Tax Administrators.
According to The Daily Iberian, a study authored by University of Tennessee professor and economist Donald Bruce predicts 25 percent of Louisiana’s $1.3 billion in sales tax collections won’t make it to the state’s coffers, also pointing out that the state’s “self-reporting” sales tax law asking consumers to track their own online purchases generated only $1.3 million in collections during the last fiscal year:
But evading sales tax is not so easy as shopping online. Many cyberspace retailers charge the tax at the transaction, but it varies from retailer to retailer. Walmart charges the local area’s standard [sales tax rate] as does Barnes and Noble. Both Target and Sports Authority charge around 4 percent. Meanwhile, on Ebay some sellers charge tax, others do not. One Florida retailer charged based on his state sales tax. And Amazon, the largest online retailer, according to the Los Angeles Times, charges sales tax only for five states. Louisiana is not one of them.
Bruce said the problem is that enforcement on these taxes is “basically nil.” He mentioned that Louisiana and other states put a line on the income tax form where citizens may voluntarily list purchases where they paid no sales tax.
According to The Advocate, the Marketplace Fairness Act making its way through both the U.S. House and Senate would give states more autonomy in pursuing sales tax collections on out-of-state businesses, more specifically on Internet companies. A similar measure was proposed in the Louisiana Legislature this year but failed, The Advocate reports:
State Rep. Rosalind Jones, D-Monroe, attempted to get at taxes through affiliates’ Louisiana addresses by authoring legislation earlier this year that would have expanded the definition of merchants responsible for collecting Louisiana’s sales and use tax. Jones’ House Bill 641 would have included in that definition Internet companies with a physical presence in the state or who work through an independent contractor in the state.
[Gov. Bobby] Jindal opposed the legislation, which failed to clear the state Senate.
Jindal said he consistently opposes burdening Louisiana families with additional taxes.
Lafayette Regional seeking new leadership after longtime director Greg Roberts’ June resignation.
The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.
The state labor department figures released Friday show the initial claims decreased to 2,068 from the previous week's total of 2,071. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,494 claims.
The struggle for control of the regional flood authority board and its lawsuit against oil and gas companies for wetlands damage has taken an unexpected turn.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier agreed several weeks ago to change the compensation formula for any future payments, but he ruled Wednesday that a deal is a deal when it comes to money BP has already paid out.
IberiaBank has already retrofitted many of the Teche Federal Bank locations it acquired in a buyout earlier this year, but some residuals from the estimated $161 million deal are still playing out, namely a federal lawsuit alleging the theft of sensitive information by two former Teche executives.
Both join Russo as brand developers.
Targets of an investigation of alleged corruption within the settlement program for compensating victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill will be in federal court Tuesday.
Excitement over Bell Helicopter’s 505 Jet Ranger X is growing, as is the international demand for the state-of-the-art chopper, which will soon be manufactured at the company’s first-ever Louisiana assembly facility in Lafayette.
The Louisiana Hospital Association, Louisiana Nursing Home Association, Louisiana Pharmacists Association, ambulance providers and intermediate care facilities are pooling their resources and planning for a statewide media buy to promote the passage of the first two constitutional amendments on the November ballot.
New report also reveals negative results of Medicaid cuts.
The Pentagon says two Louisiana companies have Navy contracts worth a total of $26.8 million.
Newcomer to Top 50 among five companies selected for Naval contract
Both sets of figures — adjusted to cancel out seasonal changes — were released by the U.S. Labor Department.
Texas declined by five rigs, West Virginia dropped three and Louisiana was down two.
A federal appeals court in New Orleans has upheld a federal safety board's right to investigate the role of Transocean Deepwater Drilling Corp. in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
A supporter of a lawsuit against the oil industry has been re-nominated to a seat on a south Louisiana flood control board despite opposition from Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The nominating committee for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East was set Thursday to nominate applicants for two people on the board whose terms have expired.
Restaurant could see ‘a little facelift,’ Bobby Butcher tells Daily Report.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says he won't approve a Cameron Parish Police Jury resolution to hire outside attorneys for such a lawsuit until the resolution is amended. Caldwell's Sept. 15 letter says the resolution must make clear that those attorneys will represent the parish alone — not the state.
Michelle D. Lavergne, who worked for the Lafayette law office of L. Clayton Burgess for 13 years, faces up to 10 years in prison.
Sonnier, former media buyer and account exec at Sides, joins Acadian companies as marketing specialist; Maggard, who most recently worked for Potenza, joins Russo as director of media and PR.
New recreation/fitness trend taking over old Crazy Charlie’s on Ambassador Caffery Parkway.
Authorities said that a Chevron Corp. subsidiary was still releasing natural gas Sunday from a pipeline off the Louisiana coast where a Saturday incident killed a maintenance worker.
Meet the WWMB Class of 2014, extraordinary women guiding our exceptional community