COVINGTON, La. -- All year long across the state, Habitat for Humanity builds homes for low-income people, then sells them to families for a fresh start.
Donations and tax exemptions help buy materials; volunteers and no sales tax on sub-contractor’ services help put the properties together on a tight budget.
The organization’s St. Tammany West affiliate says the program benefits many workers from all walks of life.
"Hospitals, grocery stores, restaurants, banks, schools, day care centers, they're really, most of them are the working poor of our community," said Habitat for Humanity-St. Tammany West Executive Director Jeff St. Romain.
But the organization says losing those tax exemptions and having to pay new sales taxes, as part of the governor’s plan to eliminate state income taxes, will tack on $6,000 to every house built, putting Habitat in a tough spot.
"So do we take people who are making more money and build homes for them? Do we try to raise more money in this economy? Do we build less homes, that means more people are living in substandard rental conditions?" St. Romain said.
"We believe that eliminating income taxes overall will generate more economic growth and we looked at studies that show when there is more economic growth, contributions to charity increase," said Director of Communications for the Louisiana Department of Revenue Douglas Baker.
The Department of Revenue says it’s also open to talking with anyone about how to make the plan work.
"We look forward to those conversations continuing and we look forward to working with those to bring about tax reform in the state of Louisiana," Baker said.
The St. Tammany West Habitat will meet later this month to start planning to address the governor’s proposal. Lawmakers head to session to consider it beginning next Monday.