Barfield, Moret promote simple, stable tax code for state

By By Ken Stickney / American Press

State Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield and Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret on Friday promoted an effort

they say will make Louisiana’s tax code simpler, fairer and more stable.

The two are point people for the Jindal administration’s efforts at tax reform, which they say will be the governor’s primary

effort before the state Legislature in 2013.

Meeting with the American Press’

editorial board, both men said the state’s current tax system undermines

industrial and business

recruitment efforts because of its complexity. For example, they

said, the state offers some 468 tax exemptions, presenting

a difficult path to navigate not only for larger companies, which

may have the staff and expertise to dedicate to studying

exemptions, but also for smaller companies and individuals, who

must dedicate extra efforts to understand them.

A simpler system would not only prove less burdensome to those who pay taxes, they said, but would also improve the state’s

image for companies that might seek to invest here.

For example, Moret said, Louisiana imposes a lower burden on taxpayers than Texas does. But because Louisiana’s system is

more complex, some people mistakenly believe Texas is a better place to do business.

Barfield said the administration has

been meeting and will continue to meet with various groups around

Louisiana, including

the Public Affairs Research Council and the Council for a Better

Louisiana, for input and ideas. In January, they said, the

administration will begin to draft bills to present to the

Legislature in time for state of the legislative session that starts

in April 2013. Barfield said the administration hopes to pass the

reform package in a single year in order to keep revenue

collection neutral.

Moret said the administration sees

opportunities to achieve four goals through a reformed tax system: a

simplified tax structure

for individuals and businesses; a more attractive image for

business investment and jobs creation; improved rankings for business

climate; and less revenue volatility.