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Monday, 22 February 2016 13:28
Possible missing tax incentive and exemptions $ under JIndal, a source woes?
 
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emptyWhile the Louisiana legislature probes through different ways to close a budget gap of almost three billion dollars, there are questions whether the state is simply giving away money, or worse, perhaps acting through negligence, malfeasance or in some cases, simply paying out more than is collected. 

The type that might require some further investigation to determine if a few billion dollars worth of revenue have somehow gone missing under the Bobby Jindal administration, in a  the Gambit Weekly, this weekend,  in a column named C.S.I. Baton Rouge, Clancy Dubos wrote:

               

According to the auditor, the Jindal Administration failed to timely file the vast majority of statutorily required reports on more than $1 billion a year in tax incentive giveaways for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

“We found that three of the six agencies that administer tax incentives submitted reports as of March 23, 2015. As a result, the Legislature only received information on five of the 79 tax incentives administered by these agencies,” the auditor’s report states on page 17.

“In addition, of the 79 tax incentive reports agencies were required to submit to the Legislature by March 1, 2014, 70 (89%) either were not submitted or did not comply with all of the reporting requirements. According to the Department of Revenue’s Tax Exemption Budgets, the revenue loss from tax incentives claimed in fiscal years 2013 and 2014 for which agencies provided no information or did not comply with reporting requirements totaled approximately $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively.”.........

To be fair, it’s possible that those errant reports would show that the tax incentives were all administered properly and achieved the desired result of job creation. Possible, but not likely. Louisiana has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates, which proves that Jindal’s trickle-down policies didn’t work.

More likely, in my opinion, the real “paperwork” behind Team Jindal’s corporate handouts is the former governor’s campaign finance reports. If history is any guide, there’s likely to be a high correlation between the former governor’s campaign finance reports and a list of companies that received tax incentives. At a minimum, Jindal committed malfeasance by consistently telling lawmakers and the public that his budgets for the past seven years were “balanced.” They were not.

Read C.S.I. Baton Rouge

            

Then there is the money which the Louisiana legislative auditor states is not lost or uncollected, but simply "given away" in terms of tax exemptions.

 

In a press release from the governnor's office, today, Edwards commented on a report from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor  that projects that in fiscal year (FY) 2015 the state will give away $400 million more in tax exemptions than it received in tax collections during the same year.

Here is the balance of the press release:

                                                             

The report finds that Louisiana’s Department of Revenue is projecting the state will take in a total of $7.5 billion in tax revenue in FY 2015, but will give away approximately $7.9 billion in tax exemptions during the same time-frame. 

“This is simply not sound fiscal policy.  At a time when our state is faced with hospital closures and deep cuts to higher education, this $400 million would help us close the $940 million deficit this year,” Gov. Edwards said. “We can no longer afford to give overly generous tax breaks to business. It is time to stabilize our budget and broaden the base of our tax code, so that our people who work and educate their children here and the corporations that do business here are all treated fairly.”

The audit report further noted that, while most state tax revenue is generated by 40 different taxes, Louisiana now grants 464 different tax exemptions, a count that has steadily increased since 2010.  The report also found that, of those 464 tax exemptions, only 52 have sunset provisions.  According to the report, the vast majority of tax exemptions continue indefinitely without any evaluation of their impact or benefit to the state. 

Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera recommended the following:

  • That all new or modified tax exemptions contain clear performance statements that include their public purpose and their expected outcomes.
  • That the legislature should develop a schedule for how often reviews should be conducted or attach sunset dates to all exemptions that dictate when they should be reviewed.
  • That the legislature should designate who specifically will conduct reviews of tax exemptions and what criteria will be used for reviews.

Click here for a link to the full audit report.

                                                                      

 

 

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