It may seem odd to link constitutional amendments and hot sauce on Saturday’s ballot — but the two are intertwined and the survival of one depends heavily on the success of the other.

I am Matt Beeson, and I own Swamp Dragon Hot Sauce, a small business with big dreams here in Baton Rouge. We produce the world’s only liquor hot sauce. (Liquor is better than vinegar!) We’re still small, but we dream big. That simple dream faces a harsh waking reality with local sales tax filings — every month. It costs us wasted time, lost productivity, and ultimately, jobs.

Louisiana requires businesses to file separate monthly sales tax returns for each parish where the business makes a sale. This is terrible for web-based businesses! Louisiana businesses face up to 54 different tax returns with more than 100 tax rates every month. Instead of working, we do countless fillings, often over pennies. If I transact business, I create tax revenue and jobs. But bogged down in sales tax filings, I’m not transacting business. Everyone loses. We must do better.

This burden doesn’t exist in other states. Their centralized systems are easier and often more accurate, meaning more revenue for local governments. Take Mississippi. In 2019, its centralized system collected $419 million in local sales tax from online sales. Louisiana collected $33.4 million. Louisiana has more people and more economic activity than Mississippi. We simply fail to capitalize on that activity to fund our local governments. Damn.

It’s past time for a centralized system that will deliver transparency and accountability for both taxpayers and local government. I have big dreams for Swamp Dragon Hot Sauce. Louisiana should dream bigger too

MATT BEESON

Swamp Dragon Hot Sauce

Baton Rouge