Virtually every man, woman and business will pay more taxes in Louisiana beginning Friday, whether it be at the retail counter, the auto rental or through the temporary loss of an exemption.
The Legislature — staring down at a midyear budget deficit of $943 million and a $2 billion shortfall next fiscal year — raised about $300 million in taxes for the rest of this year and $1.26 billion for the next fiscal year that begins July 1 during last week's special session.
But even that wasn't enough to avoid potential deep budget cuts to higher education, health care and other services.
A $70 million shortfall remains this year, while a $750 million deficit is forecast for next year.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said he will announce the mid-year cuts Monday, while his budget for next year is in the works.
The bulk of the revenue will be generated through new temporary sales taxes, but others like those to cigarettes and booze are permanent.
Louisiana's Legislative Fiscal Office just completed its analysis of the new taxes this week. Following is a list of the new taxes that will impact the most people and business owners:
One-cent state sales tax increase (Act 26, effective April 1, but expires June 30, 2018): Nobody can escape this tax, which will bring in the most revenue of any other raised, albeit temporarily. It's unpopular across all sectors. Democrats, including the governor, described it as a last resort because it's considered regressive, most adversely affecting the poor. Retailers worry because when combined with local sales tax, Louisiana will have the highest sales tax rate in the country. Parish and municipal government officials express concern it will make voters in their jurisdictions less likely to approve any new local tax. Revenue generated: $214.2 million for the rest of this fiscal year; and $880.6 million during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 fiscal years before rolling off.
Elimination of most exemptions on the existing 4 cents of state sales tax (Act 25, effective April 1, but expires June 30, 2018): Louisiana has nearly 200 exemptions on its existing sales tax — among them, krewe Mardi Gras beads. This bill eliminates most, but not all exemptions. Most agriculture-related exemptions, for instance, remain intact. Many of the exemptions scrubbed benefit businesses, which will feel the most pain from this law. The exemption on manufacturing, machinery and equipment was left on all but one penny, but even that's considered big hit to industry. Revenue generated: $66.7 million for the rest of this fiscal year; and $272.3 million in fiscal years 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Alcohol (Act 13, effective April 1): There will be no prohibition of taxes on those who imbibe, although it's the first time the tax on beer (less than a penny per can) has been raised since 1948. Wine and liquor also are targeted. Industry officials said the increase likely won't be noticed by consumers. Revenue generated: $4.7 million for the rest of this fiscal year; and $19.2 million next year.
Cigarettes (Act 3, effective April 1): Smokers have to inhale their second new tax in less than a year. The new 22-cent per pack tax will increase the total tax per pack to $1.08. Revenue generated: $11 million for the rest of this fiscal year; and $46 million next year and the years after.
Auto rental (Act 14, effective April 1): This reinstates a 3 percent tax (2.5 percent state, 0.5 percent local) that expired in 2012. The Legislature approved renewing the tax then, but Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed the measure. Though no tax is popular, lawmakers were more amenable to this one because they believe out-of-state tourists and business travelers foot much of the bill. Revenue generated: $800,000 for the state for the rest of this fiscal year; and $5 million next year.
Expands corporate franchise tax to include some limited liability companies (Act 12, effective Jan. 1, 2017): This primarily impacts large corporations like Entergy that own and operate limited liability companies as subsidiaries. It won't affect most smaller LLC businesses that choose to be to be taxed as S-corporations. Revenue generated: none this year; $10.34 million during the 2016-17 fiscal year; $89.3 million during the 2017-18 fiscal year; and $94 million in the years after.
Reduces credit available to insurance companies (Act 10, effective for premium years 2016 and 2017): This Depression-era credit was put in place to give insurance companies an incentive to deposit money in Louisiana banks and still exists today. Act 10 reduces the credit by 5 percent for two years. Revenue generated: none this year; $8.3 million during the 2016-17 fiscal year; and $8.6 million during the 2017-18 fiscal year.