Black Caucus offers tax alternative to Jindal plan

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Members of the Louisiana Legislative

Black Caucus on Tuesday discussed an alternative to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s

tax reform plan

that would reduce personal and corporate income taxes instead of

eliminate them, increase cigarette taxes by 69 cents a pack,

collect taxes on online sales and create a state tax court.

Caucus Chair Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, told more than 50 people at a town hall meeting that the plan calls for eliminating

the corporate franchise tax, a 2 percent reduction in corporate income taxes and filing legislation to collect taxes from

online sales once federal lawmakers approve a similar measure.

Jackson said the plan is “true tax

reform,” while Jindal’s proposal “overburdens the middle and lower

middle class.” The governor’s

plan would eliminate individual and corporate income taxes, while

raising the 4 percent state sales tax by 1.88 percent and

boosting cigarette taxes from 36 cents per pack to $1.41 per pack.

It also calls for taxing services like haircuts and landscaping.

“We’re trying to beat them to the table on tax reform,” Jackson said. “It’s not a party issue. Jindal is putting himself on

the national agenda.”

Jackson said she is also worried that Jindal’s reform efforts will not be revenue neutral. The Public Affairs Research Council

of Louisiana issued a report last week saying that the state could lose up to $650 million in revenue under Jindal’s plan.

“(The state) already has a $1.3 billion deficit this year,” she said.

Jackson said the caucus is working on its own revenue-generating package that should be released next week.

She said the tax reform plan would not

allow individuals or corporations to claim any federal deductions except

for charitable

and religious organizations. There would be a standard deduction

of $9,000 for joint return filers, $4,500 for non-joint return

filers and $1,000 for dependency deductions.

The proposed state tax court would include three elected judges, with one serving the first circuit, another serving the second

and third circuits and another serving the fourth and fifth circuits.

David Gray is a policy analyst for the Louisiana Budget Project, a nonprofit group that worked with the caucus on the plan.

He said Jindal’s rebate program will not compensate low- and middle-class people for the extra money spent on sales taxes.

“If you make less than $30,000 a year, you will benefit by $7,” he said. “If you make over $1 million, you will benefit by

$66,000.”

The meeting, held at the Foreman-Reynaud Community Center, was hosted by the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and Rep. A.B.

Franklin, D-Lake Charles.