Local sales and use taxes have been in existence for over 60 years and comprise a major funding source for local government. Louisiana’s local sales and use tax collection process has been a concern to business and industry for several years citing a lack of uniformity in the imposition, collection and administration of local sales and use taxes. Understanding the issues presented by the business community and the importance of local tax collection to their respective jurisdictions, local tax collectors have been extremely active in drafting and implementing reforms designed to improve the local tax collection process.
Most notable are the adoption of a single collector for each parish, the implementation of Uniform Local Sales Tax Code in revised statutes to promote uniformity to the extent possible in the assessment, collection, administration, and enforcement of the sales and use taxes imposed by taxing authorities and the creation of the Local Division of the Board of Tax Appeals to provide a forum for the uniform adjudication of local sales and use tax disputes. Local tax collectors have also participated in amending revised statutes regarding sales and use tax auditing processes including, but not limited to, tax auditors, auditor qualifications, and audit procedures.
In early 2015 several local tax administrators, recognizing the importance of and the need for uniformity, began drafting legislation to address uniformity issues with the local tax collection process from a local regulatory standpoint. Legislation was introduced in the 2017 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature. As a result, the Louisiana Uniform Local Sales Tax Board, hereinafter the “Board”, was created by Act 274 of the 2017 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature to provide uniformity and efficiency of imposition, collection, and administration of local sales and use taxes. Its statutory creation as a political subdivision of the State provides the Board with the regulatory authority to carry out its duties as defined in LRS 47:337.102 and accomplish such through the issuance of policy advice to taxpayers and tax collectors, adopting model procedures and uniform forms, and providing support to local sales and use tax collectors in Louisiana.
The membership of Board consists of eight members. The members include the executive directors of the for permanent members, the Louisiana Municipal Association, Louisiana Sheriff’s Association, Police Jury Association of Louisiana, Louisiana School Board Association. Each of the aforementioned associations appoints active parish sales tax administrators.
The Louisiana Municipal Association appointed Tiffani Delapasse of the City of Baton Finance Department; the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association appointed Gregory A. Ruppert of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Revenue and Taxation; the Police Jury Association of Louisiana appointed Donna Andries of the Rapides Parish Sales and Use Tax Department; and the Louisiana School Board Association appointed Amber Hymel of the Jefferson Davis Sales Tax Department. Parish tax administrators serve at the pleasure of their respective appointing association.
The Board held its first meeting on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, at 1:30pm. The first order of business was the election of officers as follows:
Chairperson: Donna J. Andries
Vice Chair: Gregory A. Ruppert
Secretary: Amber Hymel
Immediately following the election of officers and addressing the Board’s future meeting schedule, the Board entered into executive session to discuss West Feliciana Parish Government, Plaquemines Parish Council and St. James Parish School Board vs. State of Louisiana, Office of Motor Vehicles, et al. This suit, filed in the 19th Judicial District Court, seeks to challenge the Board’s sole source of revenue, a dedication of a miniscule percentage of the total statewide collections of local sales tax and use tax on motor vehicles. A temporary injunction was awarded the plaintiffs on September 16, 2017 that prohibited the Office of Motor Vehicles from distributing the sales and use tax withheld in accordance with LRS 47:337.102(I)(1). Although the temporary injunction has expired and the Board received funds in April 2018, this matter remains unresolved resulting in uncertainty regarding the Board’s sole source of funding.
The Board has hired Roger Bergeron as Executive Director and entered into a contractual agreement with J.A. Cline to assist with drafting policies that pertain to policy advice, rules and regulations, and private letter rulings. Together, with input and direction of the Board, the drafting of policies and procedures is in progress.