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Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret, left, and Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield. (Donna Price / American Press)<br>

Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret, left, and Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield. (Donna Price / American Press)

Barfield, Moret promote simple, stable tax code for state

Last Modified: Friday, November 16, 2012 6:43 PM

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.

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