- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

Feb. 17

American Press, Lake Charles, La., on tax amnesty:

Gov. Bobby Jindal and House Ways and Means Chairman Joel Robideaux are getting together to make sure that the state’s tax amnesty program continues to work for the good of the state and the individuals and corporations who have disputed or delinquent taxes.

That’s good because the state needs the money to pay the bills for which it is obligated. It is also a good sign when the executive and legislative branches of government show a willingness to work together to solve the state’s problems.

The first round of the state’s latest tax amnesty program produced $366 million after legislators dangled huge incentives in front of taxpayers with disputed or delinquent taxes. But the incentives of the second year of the program were less attractive and need some adjustment for the program to work and bring in the needed revenue.

The governor said he would be happy to talk with Robideaux about the program.

Among the suggested changes are a short-term installment plan and modest incentive increase. Taxpayers might get six months to submit payment. The penalty waiver might grow a little. The changes would be made in the legislative session that starts next month.

Legislators hit upon the amnesty program last year as a way to generate $200 million for the state’s health care budget. Before the program started, delinquent tax billings totaled $1.4 billion, and $1.1 billion was tied up in litigation or disputed audits.

The program produced nearly $450 million. The state’s health care bills were paid, and some cash was left over.

Robideaux, R-Lafayette, said one idea for changing the amnesty program is to allow people to pay their tax bills in three installments. He said they might get three to six months instead of having to pay the full amount in one fell swoop.

To appeal to corporations, the amount of penalties forgiven could be increased. “I’m against giving folks the same level (offered last year), but we might make it a little more enticing,” Robideaux said.

Let’s hope that the governor and Legislature can get the kinks out of the tax amnesty program, and move on to solve other problems in Louisiana.



Story Continues →