John Kennedy seeks more info on Governor's proposal to abolish personal and corporate income taxes
Louisiana's State Treasurer says he welcomes the debate over Governor Jindal's proposal to abolish the state income tax and replace the lost revenue with an increase in the state sales tax, but John Kennedy says he has a series of questions about such a move.
Kennedy's questions were contained in a weekly column he writes. He's raised the following issues:
- Louisiana's median household income is $41,734 (U.S. Census Bureau). Will a median household pay more or less in state taxes? How about those (in reasonable increments) above and below the median?
- Will the Governor's proposal make Louisiana a more attractive place to do business for out-of-state companies and businesses (particularly small businesses) already here, and, if so, how many net new jobs (jobs created minus jobs lost) can we expect?
- Will relying more on sales tax mitigate the revenue loss and unfairness from our "cash economy," in which workers are paid in cash and choose not to pay income tax?
- For planning purposes, will revenue under the new tax code be more or less volatile, and easier or harder to estimate?
- Personal and corporate income taxes bring in about $2.9 billion a year. The current 4% state sales tax brings in about $2.6 billion a year. Will a 3% sales tax increase be enough to replace the $2.9 billion loss?
- How will Louisiana's promising movie industry, which the state subsidizes with an income tax credit, be affected if there is no income tax to credit? Will homeowners have to continue to pay assessments to support the state's property insurer of last resort (Citizens) if they no longer receive an income tax credit?
- Which goods currently not subject to sales tax will now be taxed? Which services will be taxed?
- Will the Governor's proposal make Louisiana more or less attractive for retirees?
- Local governments levy sales taxes too, some as much as 5%. How will a new state and local sales tax rate of 12% affect consumer behavior? Will this encourage "cross-border" shopping in nearby states and on the internet?
- If consumers buy less because goods and services now cost more, will local governments (which don't have an income tax) need to raise their sales tax and/or property tax rates? Will the Governor's proposal make it harder for local governments to renew existingsales taxes for needs like schools, fire protection and flood control?
- If we swap income taxes for sales taxes, what assurance do we have future leaders won't reinstate the income tax or impose a state property tax (the constitution allows 5.75 mills) if revenues fall short (or even if they don't)?
- Louisiana ranks 9th in state and local revenue per capita (Tax Foundation). Do we really have a tax and revenue problem, or do we have a spending and spending priorities problem? Couldn't we reduce income taxes without raising sales taxes by wasting less, such as by eliminating some of the state's 19,000 consulting contracts, reducing the annual 900,000 taxpayer-funded visits to expensive emergency rooms for nonemergency routine care, and making the bureaucracy less top heavy?
Kennedy says he looks forward to hearing the answers from the Jindal administration.