Get Out and Vote! Election Day is Saturday, November 13th

This Saturday, November 13th the polls will open as voters in all 64 parishes will be asked to decide four changes to the Louisiana Constitution. One of the four amendments on the ballot would allow five levee boards to raise taxes. Another offers budget architects a little more flexibility to tap dedicated funds when revenues are down and the state budget needs balancing.

It is the next two amendments that are attracting the most attention though as it would start the ball rolling toward sweeping changes in the state tax system. One would lead to centralizing sales tax collections. The other would dump one hefty deduction while decreasing the income tax rates for individuals and corporations.

Below is a short synopsis of each admentment and what it would mean:

Amendment 1: Creation of the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission Measure

A “yes” vote supports creating the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission tasked to provide streamlined electronic filing and remittance of all sales and use taxes.

A “no” vote opposes creating the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission tasked to provide streamlined electronic filing and remittance of all sales and use taxes.

If approved would authorize a commission to handle collecting sales taxes and disbursing the proceeds to the proper jurisdictions, and would remove from the constitution the ability of local jurisdictions to collect their own sales tax. Louisiana institutionalized sales taxes in 1948 that allowed the state to charge a certain amount on sales at the cash register, which right now is 4.45% of every dollar. Additionally, local jurisdictions were allowed to add on and collect whatever their voters approve. 

Summary: This amendment will do nothing about the rates. It’s all about eventually having a state commission to be the sole collector of sales taxes.

Amendment 2: Reduction of the Maximum Individual Income Tax Rate Measure.

Louisiana income taxpayers are allowed to deduct from their state returns the amount paid to the federal government. Legislators propose removing the federal deduction from the constitution but also lowering income tax rates as shown below:

A “yes” vote supports amending the state constitution to decrease the maximum allowable individual income tax rate from 6% to 4.75% for tax years beginning in 2022 and providing in state law through House Bill 278 that the tax bracket rates beginning in 2022 for an individual would be 1.75% on the first $12,500 of net income; 3.50% on the next net income up to $50,000; and 4.25% on income above $50,000.

A “no” vote opposes decreasing the maximum individual income tax rates for tax years beginning in 2022, thereby maintaining the maximum individual income tax rates for an individual of 2% on the first $12,500 of net income, 4% on the next net income up to $50,000, and 6% on income above $50,000.

Median household income in Louisiana is $49,469, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

If approved, then three companion laws would take effect to reduce corporate income tax rates and franchise tax rates for corporations; and to cap the personal income tax rate in the constitution but allow for automatic future tax cuts if certain economic conditions are met.

Summary: Would start the ball rolling to a kind of tax swap that would eventually cancel a hefty state income tax deduction and lower income tax rates.

Amendment #3: Authorize Certain Levee Districts to Collect a Five-Mill Annual Property Tax Measure

A “yes” vote supports allowing Louisiana levee districts created after 2006 to levy an annual property tax of up to five mills ($5 per $1,000 of assessed value) without voter approval if those districts approve the 2021 constitutional amendment. In districts that do not approve the amendment, voter approval would continue to be required to levy a property tax.

A “no” vote opposes the amendment, thereby continuing to require that levee districts created after 2016 get voter approval levy a property tax.

A majority of voters in the state must approve as well as a majority of the voters in the parishes served by the five boards for the measure to pass.The boards are:

Chenier Plain Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority in Calcasieu, Cameron and Vermilion parishes
Iberia Parish Levee, Hurricane and Conservation District in Iberia Parish
Squirrel Run Levee and Drainage District in Iberia Parish
St. Tammany Levee, Drainage and Conservation District in St. Tammany Parish
Tangipahoa Levee District in Tangipahoa Parish.

Summary: Would allow the boards of the districts that maintain flood-control levees created since 2006 to raise property taxes without voter approval.

Amendment #4: Increase Limit on Funding Reductions and Redirections During Budget Deficits Measure

A “yes” vote supports increasing the amount of funds (from 5% to 10%) that can be redirected to a purpose other than what was originally provided for by law or as stated in the constitution during a projected budget deficit.

A “no” vote opposes increasing the amount of funds that can be redirected to a purpose other than what was originally provided for by law or as stated in the constitution during a projected budget deficit, thereby maintaining the current limit of funding reductions to 5% of the total appropriation.

Because the state has so many dedicated funds, in past deficit years, budget cuts had to be limited to appropriations for higher education, health care and a handful of other services.

Summary: Would increase the amount from dedicated funds that could be tapped in a fiscal emergency from 5% to 10% of the money that had been legally locked away for a sole purpose. Because the state has so many dedicated funds, in past deficit years, budget cuts had to be limited to appropriations for higher education, health care and a handful of other services.

The Jackson Parish Branch NAACP #6309 is encouraging every registered voter to get out and vote on Saturday, November 13.

Your vote is seriously important, and here’s why: You elect candidates who support policies that improve lives; you decide control of the taxes that effect your local and state government and know that your vote matters because one vote does make a difference.
GET OUT AND VOTE

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