Louisiana Sales Tax Proposal Is Dead

Louisiana sales tax proposal for Netflix, landscaping, massages, other services is dead
The Times-Picayune • New Orleans, La • May 15, 2017

By: Julia O’Donoghue

Louisiana legislation to start taxing a variety of products and services -- everything from Netflix and Spotify to landscaping and massages -- is dead for the current legislative session, its sponsor says. Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, pulled the sales tax bill from consideration by a House committee on Monday (May 15) after delaying it for weeks. 

"At some point in time, you have to deal with reality," said Reynolds, the House Democratic Caucus chairman. "I didn't want to waste time and have my political capital spent" on legislation that wasn't going to pass. 

It was another blow to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' efforts to maintain public services without huge spending cuts to help close a projected $1.3 billion budget deficit in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2018. Reynold's House Bill 655 was the last major, remaining piece of Edwards' tax package, after other elements were voted down by the House Ways and Means Committee or abandoned by sponsors before that panel could vote on them. 

Expanding the sales tax to new areas has been suggested for Louisiana by liberal and conservative tax experts alike, and was one of the strongest recommendations made earlier this year by a task force that was set up by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Reynolds' bill was meant to generate revenue that could replace existing money produced by Louisiana's current sales tax rate. The general concept is to lower the sales tax but apply it to more goods and services.

The proposal would have applied the sales tax to streaming entertainment services such as Netflix, Hulu, satellite radio, Spotify and Amazon Prime. A number of other of services -- massages, landscaping, certain types of debt collection and insurance appraisals, among them -- also would have been newly subjected to the sales tax. The expanded tax was supposed to go into place Oct. 1. 

It would have produced about $153 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1. In budget years after that, it would have produced about $202 million, according to an analysis done by the legislative fiscal office. 

That would not fully replace the $880 million lost when the state sales tax falls in mid-2018 from 5 percent to 4 percent. It would have covered slightly less than one quarter of the sales tax revenue reduction. 

Louisiana wasn't the only state to look at taxing Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Spotify and similar services. Pennsylvania implemented a similar tax last year. Several California cities and Alabama have also considered "Netflix tax". 

The proposal to expand the sales tax to these services is an attempt to adjust to consumer purchasing patterns. People used to buy or rent videos at a retail store and pay sales tax on the transaction. Now, they are streaming that content online and not paying sales tax. 

"Most state sales tax laws are really old and outdated. They were written in the 1930s," said John Buhl, media manager with the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan, conservative think tank during an interview in April. "As the economy changes, we are seeing states' sales tax bases shrink."  

Outside of streaming services, here are some other items that the Reynolds' bill would have taxed: 

·      Massage parlors, escort services, Turkish baths, steam baths

·      Debt collection, though this would not include child support debts or some debts collected by attorneys. Exceptions would also be included for some trusts.

·      Credit reporting services, including services that assemble credit histories and ratings for individuals

·      Insurance services, including the assessment of insurance losses, damage and appraisal. This also would include insurance inspections, investigations, analysis and research, as well as insurance claims adjustments and processing.

·      Landscaping, lawn maintenance and rubbish, solid waste and garbage collection. Janitors, custodial services and pest control also would be taxes.

·      Data processing, including some payroll and some business accounting services. This also would apply to word processing, data entry, data production and data search, whether done by a human being or machine.

·      Security services

·      Telephone answering services

·      Information services, including electronic data retrieval and specialized news services such as those for financial information. Newspaper, radio and television stations approved by the Federal Communications Commission would be excluded.

A Win for Real Estate & Homeowners

Due to the proactive efforts of the Louisiana REALTORS' Legislative Team, a successful REALTOR Day event, and over 2,000 REALTORS that responded to a Call for Action HB 655 was deferred. This is a great win in protecting homeownership in Louisiana!

No Clear Direction on Louisiana Tax Policy

No clear direction on Louisiana tax policy as Legislature reaches halfway point
Nola.com

The Louisiana Legislature's 2017 regular session reaches its midpoint Tuesday (May 9) with no clear direction on how lawmakers will rewrite the state's tax laws, if they can reach agreement at all. Some signs of progress emerged Monday as the House tax committee started advancing proposals for consideration, but without any promise that lawmakers on the committee would support the ideas on the House floor.

Out of more than 900 bills filed for the session, none has reached the governor's desk. Portions of Gov. John Bel Edwards' legislative agenda have run into significant opposition, with his main tax bill already jettisoned.

The two-month session must end by June 8. Here's where things stand:

Tax overhaul
Edwards said a tax overhaul is needed to stabilize Louisiana's finances, end years of budget shortfalls and compensate for the expiration of $1.3 billion in temporary taxes in mid-2018. But the Democratic governor's main revenue-raising proposal, to charge a new tax on businesses' gross receipts, failed to gain any traction, and he's since shelved the idea.

Awaiting debate on the Senate floor are measures that would lessen tax breaks. But with most tax bills required to start in the House, senators have only modest work they can do.

House Republican leaders have yet to rally around a specific package of bills. On Monday, the House Ways and Means Committee started advancing measures to change laws governing corporate taxes, individual income taxes and various tax break programs. The panel didn't vote on concepts but simply forwarded them to the full House for consideration while negotiations continue behind the scenes.

State budget
Although House GOP leaders haven't embraced a specific plan for tax policy, they have adopted their approach to next year's more than $29 billion state operating budget. They propose to spend 2.5 percent less than the full forecast of what Louisiana is expected to collect in general state tax dollars, to hedge against concerns the forecast could come up short and force midyear cuts.

House Democrats and Edwards say leaving $235 million on the table could force damaging and unnecessary cuts across government in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Republicans say the Edwards administration is using scare tactics.

Almost all Democrats opposed the budget proposal approved by the House last week. Negotiations shifted to the Senate on Monday.

Governor's agenda
Beyond taxes, other Edwards-backed proposals appear to be in trouble. An effort to raise Louisiana's minimum wage hasn't yet received a hearing, and the governor's push for new equal pay laws in Louisiana hit a roadblock in the House labor committee, which killed one of his proposals. The full Senate will debate a second measure requiring private businesses to pay the same wages to men and women who perform the same work. But if it advances out of the Senate, it will head to the House labor committee.

Proposals to rewrite Louisiana's criminal sentencing laws, the goal being to lessen Louisiana's tops-in-the-U.S. incarceration rate, are advancing. But some already have been watered down amid resistance from district attorneys, and more revisions are expected.

Contentious debates

Besides financial haggling, lawmakers have embarked on other contentious debates:

·       The House will debate a measure aimed at protecting Confederate monuments by requiring voter approval before they could be removed from public property

·       The Senate will consider whether to ban use of the death penalty in Louisiana.

Some bills already have been shelved:

·       The House voted down a bill to shorten the wait for a divorce when the married couple has children younger than 18.

·       A House committee rejected a proposal to restore the voting rights of convicted felons on probation or parole

·       Senators refused to require TOPS students to live in the state for several years or reimburse Louisiana for part of their tuition costs

Legislative Session Update - Call for Action & REALTOR® Day

Louisiana REALTORS® held a successful REALTOR® Day in conjunction with the SPRING INTO ACTION Conference last week. Over 500 attendees representing all areas of the state attended the one-day event in Baton Rouge and the presence at the Capitol was noted by the legislators. We would like to extend a THANK YOU to all the local boards and volunteers that took part in the day's activities.

Louisiana REALTORS' Legislative Bill Tracker

Louisiana REALTORS conducted an extensive bill review session on Tuesday, April 18 and selected approximately 300 bills to monitor over the 2017 Legislative Session. 

John Bel Edwards’ signature tax proposal killed in Louisiana House

Source: The Times-Picayune • New Orleans, La April 25, 2017
By: Julia O’Donoghue

The lynchpin of Gov. John Bel Edwards' plan to overhaul Louisiana's tax system was killed in a Louisiana House committee Tuesday (April 25). Edwards couldn't muster enough votes for his commercial activity tax, contained in House Bill 628, even after significantly lowering the amount of money businesses would actually have to pay as a result of the measure.

Rep. Sam Jones, who was sponsoring the bill for the governor, asked that the legislation be "voluntarily deferred" -- rather than having a vote that would kill it. The move allowed Democrats and others on the committee -- who might not want to choose between supporting the Democratic governor and the business community -- to avoid having to make a decision on the bill at all.

When Edwards initially announced his plan for the commercial activity tax, it was supposed to raise between $800 million and $900 million annually. By the time it came before the committee Tuesday, it was only expected to generate $288 million annually. The House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax policy for the Legislature, still wasn't willing to vote for it. 

The commercial activity tax was essentially a gross receipts tax on the sales of goods and services. It acts like a sales tax except the seller, not the buyer, pays it. It also applies to many more transactions than the sales tax in Louisiana.

Over the 24 hours before it came up in committee, the Edwards administration made significant changes to the bill to try to generate more support for it. They removed S-corporations -- such as limited liability companies and partnerships -- from being subjected to it in an effort to answer the concerns of smaller businesses. They also lowered the amount of tax many of the remaining entities subjected to it would have had to pay. 

Still, representatives from the oil and gas industry, homebuilders, paper mills, a local restaurant chain and the state's small business association testified that it would devastate them Tuesday. "This bill is going to kill the very industry we depend on," said Chris John, of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. 

Donny Rouse, representing Rouses Supermarkets, also said his business would be significantly affected by the commercial activity tax -- even though the governor's team had tried to amend it to ease the concerns of grocery stores. Rouse said he operates on too tight a profit margin to pay a tax on every item he sells in his 45 stores in Louisiana.

"This would double what we pay the state in taxes currently," he said in an interview. "This would be a tax, whether we make a profit or not." 

Edwards had proposed the commercial activity tax as a replacement to the higher sales tax rate that is set to expire on July 1, 2018. When the state sales tax rate drops from five percent to four percent, it will create a $880 million hole in the state budget. The governor and House Republican leadership have not reached an agreement on how to close that budget gap yet. 

Legislative Session Update

Legislative session is well underway in the state's capitall! Last Tuesday, Louisiana REALTORS® was prepared to testify against House Bill 562, which proposes a professional services tax on immovable property, but that legislation was not heard in committee. LR was successful in moving its sponsored legislation out of the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

Board Meeting Materials

Meeting on May 4, 2017

Updated: 4/30/3017

The following materials are posted for the purpose of review prior to the Board of Directors Meeting.

Meeting Agenda

Board of Directors Meeting Packet

2017 Strategic Plan

Proposed Amendment

Investment Report

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

Minutes 01/26/2017

Resolutions

Elections for 2018 Officers will also take place at the meeting.
To view candidate applications, click here. 

BOD Seating Chart


Directors who are unable to attend the meeting are asked to submit a request for an excused absence. 

Name *
Name

2017 Legislative Session Begins

The Louisiana Legislature convened today, Monday, April 10th.  The major focus of the 60-day session will be on the budget deficit facing the state. Tax measures, budget bills, criminal justice reform and TOPS issues will be discussed and debated. Louisiana REALTORS® will be heavily engaged on several tax measures and other bills to ensure the real estate industry and its members are not negatively impacted.

Message from the CEO (April 2017)

Message from the CEO (April 2017)

As the 2017 Louisiana Legislative Session kicks off on April 10, LR is calling for an industry wide effort to oppose any taxes that will impact small businesses and the real estate industry. 

Save the Date: REALTOR Day - May 2, 2017

This year REALTORS are encouraged to attend and participate in REALTOR DAY on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. It is important during the 2017 Legislative Session for REALTORS to rally together and advocate on behalf of consumers to protect home ownership in Louisiana.

LR Board of Directors Makes Pledge to Screen for Colorectal Cancer

At LR's annual Leadership Conference, the 2017 Board of Directors in honor of esteemed colleague Dianne McAdams, a colorectal cancer survivor, approved a resolution to pledge and commit to embracing the shared goal of reaching 80% screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.

2017 Learning to Lead Leadership Conference

2017 Learning to Lead Leadership Conference

Louisiana REALTORS® hosted over 125 REALTOR® members from all areas of the state for its annual Leadership Conference in Baton Rouge. This day and half event set the tone for the priorities of the new year and provided information and tools for incoming local board and state level leaders and volunteers to serve the real estate industry throughout 2017.  

LR Officer Candidate Application & Award Nominations

LR Officer Candidate Application & Award Nominations

LR Officer Candidate Application & Award Nominations

Annually during the Spring Action Conference, Louisiana REALTORS® holds the election for the positions of President-elect, Secretary/Treasurer, and (4) Regional Vice Presidents. Members interested in submitting an application to be a candidate for any of the positions will need to reference the following documents provided. Deadline to submit an application is March 1, 2017.  

COMPLETE THE OFFICER CANDIDATE APPLICATION FORM

REALTOR® Awards

Nominations for the state REALTOR®  of the Year and the Lawrence R. Demarcay, Jr. Distinguished Service Award are now open.  Louisiana REALTORS® recognizes members for their outstanding service and dedication to their profession and to our association during luncheon for the Spring Action Conference.  Deadline to submit an award nomination is Monday, February 27, 2017. 

REALTOR of the Year Application
Lawrence R. Demarcay, Jr. Distinguished Service Award Application

Detailed job descriptions for each office position is provided by clicking the links below and qualification requirements are outlined in the Association By Laws.

By Laws – Article 6 – Officers

President President-Elect Secretary/ Treasurer Regional Vice President

Thank You REALTOR Family!

Thank You REALTOR Family!

Since the historic flooding this summer, Louisiana REALTORS® has received support and donations to the REALTOR® relief fund from the National Association of REALTORS® and members of the REALTOR® family all over the country. Hundreds of donations have came from associations, companies, and individuals and have directly benefited members who were impacted by the severe flooding this summer. On behalf of REALTORS® in our state, we want to extend a sincere THANK YOU to all who have donated.

Assn Thank You

Realtors E-Newsletter

Monday, December 19, 2016


Message from the CEO:

Norman Morris, CEO gives a quick recap of LR’s 2016 programs and accomplishments in the latest video Message from the CEO


2016 Executive Committee Holiday Greeting

The 2016 Executive Committee met for the last time on December 1st at LR offices in Baton Rouge. Members received certificates of appreciation and enjoyed a nice lunch following the meeting. Members represented on Executive Committee are as follows (left to right): Beth Cristina – Immediate Past President, Frank Trapani – President-Elect, David Gleason – Commercial Division Director, David McKey – Regional Vice President II, David Holloway – Legislative Division Director, Eloise Gauthier – Professional Development Division Director, Aaron Goolsby – Marketing & Member Services Division Director, Betty Sun – Professional Conduct Division Director, Tom Giroir – Regional Vice President-IV, Gladys Smith – Regional Vice President I, Carole Woodward – Regional Vice President III. Not pictured: Judy Holland- LARPAC Director and Scott Hughes- Association Executive.

LR_photo
Exec

E&O Insurance and What You Need to Know

The Louisiana Real Estate Commission (LREC) requires all licensees to be covered by Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance. This insurance helps protect individuals and companies from the full cost of defending against a claim made by a client and damages awarded. This can be through a Firm policy that covers everyone or through Individual coverage. Some brokerages provide group coverage as a benefit so you should check with your office manager or broker about that and know your coverage before spending any additional money.

LR’s member benefit partner CRES Insurance Services offers an alternative option for E&O insurance along with other exclusive offerings and have provided a helpful article regarding frequently asked questions. If you would like to minimize your risk in the coming year, you should take a look at more information about your options and access that additional information, here. For questions contact CRES at 858-618-1648.


Education Requirements CE & Ethics

There is a lot of confusion regarding required education hours that typically surfaces this time of year. As the license renewal deadline approaches on December 31, many members find themselves scrambling for CE credit and we are also at the end of a Quadrennial Cycle for Code of Ethics. Many education vendors and local boards are still offering live classes and there are a variety of online CE providers with license renewal packages. Misinformation gets circulated all too easily and it is hard for REALTORS® to decipher what credits are needed and who tracks what and where so we’ve compiled this information for you.

Let’s first talk about CE. Annual continuing education is a requirement to keep and renew your real estate license. The Louisiana Real Estate Commission (LREC) is the regulatory body that approves classes for CE credit and will be the authority that enforces penalties should you not complete your education hours.

Q: How many CE hours are required for license renewal? 

A: 12 hrs are required annually for your real estate license renewal. 4hrs of the 12hrs are to be completed with the 2016 Mandatory Topic. 8 hrs can then be completed with any combination of LREC approved CE classes.

Q: What is the 2016 Mandatory Topic?

A: There were 3 topic options in 2016 to satisfy the Mandatory Topic and will vary with each education vendor.

1) 4 hrs on Agency 2) 4 hrs on CFPB or  3) 2 hrs on Agency & 2 hrs on CFPB.

It is important to check that the class you take to fulfill the mandatory hours contains “2016 Mandatory Topic” in the class title. The topic is determined by LREC and changes from year to year. Failure to complete the Mandatory Topic can result in a fine. Alternative credit for mandatory topic will be indicated in the title of the class. For example: “2016 Mandatory Commercial Alternative-Land Use and Zoning,” which was provided to commercial practitioners.

Q: Where can I check my hours?

A: The best place to check your hours is from your own records. Always be sure to sign in and sign out when you attend a class. Then try to note the date, instructor, and location on your calendar or planner. Lastly, it is important that you keep a copy of your certificate. The other place to check your education record is www.lrec.state.la.us/licensee-search/. You should complete your 12 hrs prior to renewing your license.

Q: What do I do if a class I attended is not on my education record?

A: If you check your education record and see a class has not been reported, contact the education vendor. Note that vendors have up to 30 days following a CE class to report credit to LREC. You should contact the education vendor first if you lost your certificate and need a duplicate copy produced. It is possible that some vendors will charge for that. The certificate is to be kept for your records and will only need to be produced if you get audited. You do not need to send copies of the certificate to LREC unless you are audited.

Q: What happens if I don’t complete the 12 hrs?

A: Renewing your license before completing the CE hours is subject to a fine. Not completing 12 hrs of CE is also subject to a fine. If you cannot find a live class and still need hrs, it is best to purchase a 12 hr CE package through an online CE provider and complete as soon as possible.

Q: Do CE credits transfer from year to year? 

A: No they do not. It is perfectly OK to take “extra.”

***If you were licensed in 2016, the education requirement is the 45 hours Post License class AND the 4 hr Mandatory Topic. If your 180 days deadline to complete the 45PL is after December 31, then you will need to complete all 12 hrs of CE with 4 hrs being the Mandatory Topic. This can be confusing so if you have a specific question, contact the LREC Education Department at 225-925-1923.

Now, let’s talk Code of Ethics/Quadrennial Cycle/Professional Standards.
(Yes, it is referenced by all of those names but it is not necessarily all the same thing)

Q: What is the Code of Ethics Training Requirement? 

A:  As a condition of REALTOR® membership, REALTORS® are required to complete ethics training of not less than 2 hours, 30 minutes of instructional time within four-year cycles. The training must meet specific learning objectives and criteria established by the National Association of REALTORS®.  The current cycle for the Code of Ethics training requirement is January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2016.

Q: Where is Code of Ethics Training available?

A: Training may be completed through local or state REALTOR® associations or through another method, such as home study, correspondence, classroom courses, or online courses. Check with your local board of REALTORS® whether a class you have taken will count toward the training requirement. If you are in need of training, click here.

Q: Can REALTORS® get CE credit for Code of Ethics classes?

A: Yes and No. Many providers of the Code of Ethics classes have also applied for LREC credit for these classes. Credit hours for this topic can range between 2 hrs to 4 hrs. While the class can count toward regular CE, this requirement is a condition of REALTOR® membership NOT a requirement of your license renewal. You will need to check with your local board NOT LREC to insure the class you take or took will suffice for credit. If you have taken a course that you feel should satisfy this requirement, you will need to talk to your local board.

If you took a CE class or believe you should have received credit from Louisiana REALTORS, please call us at 1-800-266-8538 so someone can assist you.

Local Board President Installations


Congratulations to the incoming local board Presidents and local directors who are being installed at events taking place around the state. Louisiana REALTORS® looks forward to working with a great group of leaders in 2017!

REALTORS® Association of Acadiana – Angi Trahan

SEND ANGI A MESSAGE!

Northeast LA Association of REALTORS® – Al Peterson

SEND AL A MESSAGE!

Bayou Board of REALTORS® – Synde Devillier

SEND SYNDE A MESSAGE!

Greater Central LA Association of REALTORS® – Jim Leggett

SEND JIM A MESSAGE!

Greater Fort Polk Association of REALTORS® – Frances Jouban

SEND FRANCES A MESSAGE!

New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® – Josie Degrusha

SEND JOSIE A MESSAGE!

Southwest LA Association of REALTORS® – Kathy Venable

2017 LR Leadership Applications


The 2017 LR Leadership Applications are now available. This statewide leadership program boasts an impressive group of professionals who have given back to their brokerages, their communities, and through serving on the local, state, and national levels of the REALTOR® organization. This program is comprised of a series of day and half retreats that provide speakers and programming to develop one’s leadership and business skills. The program requires an investment of your time and provides a great opportunity to travel to different locations and meet REALTORS® from around the state.

“Louisiana REALTORS Leadership (Class of 2013) has, to date, been the single most enjoyable and beneficial decision I’ve made in my career.  It strengthened my leadership abilities, helped me in my everyday business by teaching me “read” clients more accurately, and introduced me to a group of men and woman from around the state who have become friends – and who are only a phone call away when I need advice or someone to act as a sounding board for an idea.” – Allen Duhe, 2016 REALTOR Association of Acadiana President & 2017 LR Professional Development Division Director.

“LR Leadership has inspired me to not only learn more about my association and my desire to serve, but also raised my awareness of how to apply those skills to my business as well.  The bonds and friendships formed with my peers in leadership have exceeded all expectations I had when I started the program.” – Rick Roberts, 2012 LR President & 2017 NAR Director

The application deadline is Friday, January 6, 2017 and space is limited. For questions or if you want more information contact, Amy P. Fennell.

Registration Open for Learning to Lead Conference and LR Committee Sign Ups


Registration for the 2017 Learning to Lead conference is now available online. This day and half event sets the tone for the priorities of the new year and aims to provide information and tools for incoming local board and state level leaders and volunteers to serve the real estate industry throughout 2017. This is no registration fee to attend and the room block at the Hilton Capitol Center ends on Monday, January 2, 2017. Reservations can be made by calling the hotel at 1-800-955-6962. You will need to provide the code LRA or ask for the “LA REALTORS Association” group.

ICYMI: It’s not too late to sign up for LR committees!! If you want to volunteer your time and input at the state level we encourage you to sign up for a team. Meetings are conducted throughout the year and commitments vary depending on the area you volunteer in and the program of work involved. Committees are a good way to provide input and get to know members from around the state. For a list of committee descriptions, click here.

Holiday Hours: Our offices will be closed on Friday, December 23 and Monday, December 26 in observance of the Christmas holiday and Friday, December 30 and Monday, January 2, 2017 in observance of the New Year.  On behalf of LR staff and leadership, we look forward to an exciting and productive 2017!

November 23, 2016

November 23, 2016

America elected Republican Donald Trump as our next President, and Republicans kept control of both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. REALTORS will continue to be focused on reauthorizing flood insurance and maintaining key provisions in the tax code that is essential to a strong real estate industry such as the mortgage interest deduction.