House Republicans Consider Renewing One-cent State Sales Tax
House Republicans are looking at renewing at least some or all of the temporary one cent sales tax as a way to address a looming one billion dollar shortfall.
“From talking to my colleagues, I think there's some general will, especially within Republicans, to renew the penny for a little bit longer,” Houma Representative Tanner Magee said.
But Governor John Bel Edwards says he will not support any plan that maintains the current sales tax rate which is currently five percent, one of the highest in the country. And Baton Rouge Representative Ted James says legislators promised to let the temporary sales tax penny expire when they voted for it in 2016.
“I am going to honor my promise and I'm not going to support extending the sales tax, because if I do that I think I'm endorsing the fact that the legislature made a promise to real tax reform and we reneged,” James said.
Edwards and the Democratic caucus have made tax reform a centerpiece of their legislative agenda, and hope to shift the tax burden away from individuals by eliminating tax exemptions that specific industries currently enjoy. James says most of all though, sales taxes hit the working class hardest.
“I know and everyone knows that the sales tax is a regressive tax and it hits the working poor harder than other folks in Louisiana,” James said.
Magee says he supports renewing three quarters of the sales tax, and committing a quarter of those funds to TOPS. He says Louisiana’s sales tax is different from other states, in that it has a large pool of exemptions.
“Groceries and pharmaceuticals are exempted from that sales tax, so they're not paying for in the sales tax,” Magee said.