Jindal proposes getting rid of income taxes

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal is

proposing to eliminate Louisiana's personal and business income taxes in

exchange

for higher state sales taxes and the removal of some tax breaks

currently on the books, a tax swap that will be the centerpiece

of his planned tax code rewrite for the next legislative session.

Jindal's shopping the idea to lawmakers, who will consider it in the regular session that begins in April. He described the

proposal Thursday as a way to save Louisiana families money and make the state more appealing to business and industry.

"We are meeting with every legislator over the coming weeks to discuss the details of the tax reform plan. Our goal is to

eliminate all personal income tax and all corporate income tax in a revenue neutral manner," the Republican governor said

in a statement.

He didn't say how much sales taxes would

need to be raised — or which tax breaks he's proposing to eliminate — to

fill the

nearly $3 billion gap that would be left by eliminating income

taxes. The state's sales tax rate is 4 percent, but local municipalities

also charge additional sales taxes.

"Eliminating personal income taxes will put

more money back into the pockets of Louisiana families and will change a

complex

tax code into a more simple system that will make Louisiana more

attractive to companies who want to invest here and create

jobs," Jindal said.

With local and state sales taxes combined,

Louisiana already has one of the highest sales tax rates in the nation,

even before

any changes proposed by Jindal. Critics of sales tax hikes say

they fall disproportionately harder on the poor, because sales

taxes take a larger slice of their earnings. The state's income

tax, by comparison, has steps where a larger percentage of

income is paid in taxes the more a person or household earns.

"At a bare minimum, a tax overhaul should

not be an excuse to make the state's poorest citizens pay more, and they

would suffer

the most from the governor's proposal to raise sales taxes," said

Jan Moller, head of the Louisiana Budget Project, a left-leaning

organization that advocates for low- to moderate-income families,

in a statement.

Moller said Louisiana already has one of the country's most unfair tax systems to the poor.

"Eliminating income taxes threatens to make this problem worse," he said.