Buried in the twenty-five pages of revisions to the sales tax statutes you will find an astounding array of new and increased taxes.
In addition to the penny added to the state sales tax, getting the most press are the usual sin taxes: alcohol and cigarettes. The tax on cigarettes went up twenty-two cents for a new total of $1.08 tax per pack. Taxes on beer, wine, and liquor are also up.
Our legislators have found ways to tax just about everything this time around though, and reading through the twenty-five pages of revisions is enlightening. For example, we are now taxing Mardi Gras beads at five-percent; the purchases by krewes for those Mardi Gras throws had been previously exempt but no more.
We are also now taxing athletic events at schools now. The old statute:
(b)(i) The sale of admissions to places of amusement, to athletic entertainment other than that of schools, colleges, and universities, and recreational events, and the furnishing, for dues, fees, or other consideration of the privilege of access to clubs or the privilege of having access to or the use of amusement, entertainment, athletic, or recreational facilities; but the term "sales of services" shall not include membership fees or dues of nonprofit, civic organizations, including by way of illustration and not of limitation the Young Men's Christian Association, the Catholic Youth Organization, and the Young Women's Christian Association.
But that statute is now revised to include taxes on admission charges to athletic events of schools, colleges, and universities (see page nine). That tax will start out at 5% and run until June 30, 2016 and then will drop to 3% for the next two years, and supposedly will expire in July 2018. This is a terrible thing for public schools who quite often barely support their athletic programs at all. We all know that schools are always involved in one fund-raiser after another to support these programs. Car washes, candy sales, gift-wrap fundraisers, cookie dough fundraisers...it goes on and on.
Where will the extra manpower come from in collecting and accounting for these taxes at the school level? The ripple effect of this one is disheartening.
Also now taxable at a rate of 5% are your membership fees and dues to civic organizations like the American Legion, YMCA, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of the American Revolution, local historical societies, etc. That one is going to hit me on several fronts.
There's a new 5% tax on admission to art museums and science museums.
That non-profit camp you were going to this summer? Now taxed at five-percent -- unless you go in July and then it's 3%.
Eyeglasses, prosthetic devices, contact lenses, and wheelchairs will be taxed at 5% as will your purchase of a dialysis machine.
Ticket sales by non-profits? Five-percent. So, that American Legion Style Show fundraiser? You'll be paying taxes on that ticket.
Do you shop at the thrift shop at Barksdale or other military installation? There's a new 5% tax on your purchase.
And you've got to wonder what they're thinking here: "Sales by blind persons who operate certain small businesses." Five-percent.
Tickets to dance, drama or performing arts performance sponsored by domestic nonprofit organizations: Five percent.
And if you purchase a of one-of-a-kind work of art from an established location within a cultural products district, there's now a 5% tax.
But hey, it's not all bad. If you own a racehorse in a claiming race, you don't have to pay tax!
And you don't have to pay taxes on your food stamp purchases.
And you don't have to pay tax on your crawfish bait.
Most of these taxes decrease in July back down to 3% and the finally expire again in two years, but it is safe to say that Louisiana lawmakers have figured out how to tax just about everything.
Not only that, but because of the new tax on internet sales, Amazon Associates has ended its program in Louisiana. Those links to books or merchandise that used to be in my sidebar and at the end of some posts? Gone with the wind. I no longer earn revenue from those.
The debate on how we got to this situation is another story - there is plenty of blame to go around and it's certain that Bobby Jindal's shell game bookkeeping didn't help us, but neither political party is without blame. One would hope however that Governor Edwards would consider top level pay cuts or suspension of his own pay, perhaps, rather than the salary increases he doled out upon his election. Instead we are putting the burden on the backs of those that can least afford it.