With 52% of state voters against, a constitutional amendment to help small businesses went down to defeat Nov. 13, but the problem it aimed to resolve — complex sales tax administration — will have to be dealt with at some point.
The amendment would have set in motion a complicated series of changes leading to the simplified sales tax collection methods adopted in just about every state.
Why not Louisiana? A long story, involving politics and mistrust among different levels of government. But even opponents of the amendment that failed, including New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, believe things have to change.
Why? Another collection system would make sales tax rules and payments uniform and easier for small businesses to navigate.
That’s not a small issue. In Texas, it takes a business minute to file its sales taxes with the state. Here it can take hours because of Louisiana’s Rube Goldberg system, including up to 56 separate audits for businesses operating statewide.
Tax efficiency isn't a high-profile issue with the public but it matters a great deal for a growing small business that suddenly has to deal with a variety of tax collectors.
The amendment did not lose big, and in a very low turnout election, so there is already talk among legislators and business groups about other ways to reform our clunky and inefficient system. We hope those bear fruit, because in that election, the 48% for the amendment got it right.