The Concordia Parish School Board Sales Tax Division could see the loss of eight local jobs if voters approved Constitutional Amendment 1 this fall, according to CPSB Director of Business Affairs Tom O’Neal.
He reminded the board during its regular meeting on Sept. 9 that the local sales tax division also collects sales taxes for seven other parishes.
Louisiana voters will decide the fate of Amendment 1, designed to simplify the state sales tax collection system, on Nov. 11.
House Speaker Clay Schexnayder stumped in favor of the amendment at Vidalia Riverfront Convention Center on August 27.
If passed, he said the amendment would create a State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission to “provide for the streamlined electronic filing, electronic remittance and the collection of sales and use taxes levied within the state,” according to the bill.
After its first year, the commission would replace both the Uniform Local Sales Tax Board and Tax Commission for Remote Sellers. The commission would also issue policy advice and develop rules and regulations to simplify and streamline the audit process for taxpayers.
“Honestly and truly I think this is the beginning to the end” for the local sales tax office, O’Neal said this week. He said proponents claim that the amendment will make things more equitable for the business community and would be a better way to collect internet sales.
O’Neal said he was also concerned that the state might consider down the line taking over other collections done locally, including alcohol permits, liquor licenses and other permits.
“What about local businesses that don’t file online?” he wonders. “Who will help them?”
He also noted that some local governmental entities need their monthly taxes from the CPSO sales tax department as soon as possible. O’Neal wondered if the state would respond as quickly to those needs as does the CPSB sales tax office.
The board asked O’Neal at last week’s meeting to let the local entities served by the sales tax office in the seven parishes know what would happen if the amendment passed.
The Concordia Parish Sales Tax Office is the largest collector in the state, O’Neal said.
The HR 31 Resolution proposes “to urge and request that a study group comprised of members ... make recommendations to the legislature related to the creation of a centralized sales and use tax collection system.”
The Primary Powers & Duties proposal would relocate the Louisiana Sales and Use Tax Commission for Remote Sellers under this Sales Tax Board; create single web-based portal for all State and local sales/use tax filing and remittance, and Provide Sales Tax Board with all statutory duties and obligations of the Louisiana Uniform Local Tax Board.
The Creation of a Single Sales Tax Board which was created in the Louisiana Constitution if voted on by the electorate to establish it as a Statewide political subdivision outside of the executive branch of State government; Permit it to collect State and local sales/use taxes, and Fund it with State and local sources of revenue.
"During our review of the HR 31 Study Group proposal, it was noted that the local collectors are collecting more than three times the taxes that the Department of Revenue collects," O'Neal said. "We don't want the second team collecting taxes."
The Concordia Parish Tax Office is the only one in the state that serves multiple parishes, O'Neal said.
"Our office is the first to do so, and is largest of only two in the state with Lincoln Tax Commission collecting Union Parish taxes," he said.
The Concordia Parish School Board Sales Tax Division serves Concordia, Catahoula, Caldwell, East Carroll, LaSalle and Tensas Parishes, and recently picked up Madison Parish.
"We need sales taxes because they make up 48 percent of our local revenue," O'Neal said. "In 2018, 48 percent was indicated for the school board. In looking at the last three years average it would be 51 percent. The police jury average would be even greater than that at about 59 percent."
In the total audit revenue for fiscal year 2020, Concordia sales tax office collected $795,242. Of that, LaSalle was the largest benefactor with receipts of $460,567. Concordia was the second largest with $169,785 with the remaining balance ($164,889) was scattered between the remaining parishes.