Rep. White believes Internet sales tax coming

Published 7:07 am Saturday, February 20, 2016

State Rep. Malinda White said the first week of the special session in Baton Rouge has been productive.

Gov. John Bel Edwards called the state legislature to work this week ahead of the regular session to deal with the looming budget deficit. Edwards has said the state is facing a deficit of nearly a billion dollars this fiscal year due to declining revenues and the state could be facing a much larger deficit next year, as well.

White said that while none of her committees have met this week, she’s been keeping busy attending Ways and Means and Appropriations committee meetings. Those committees oversee taxing and spending, respectively. Edwards has called for Democrats and Republicans to work together to solve the fiscal crisis, and White, who is a Democrat, said she’s sensed a willingness to work together.

“Yes, I do see that happening as the bills are coming together,” she said. “Everybody knows we have a deficit and we need to do something.”

White co-authored a bill that would charge sales tax on online purchases. The tax could come as good news to brick-and-mortar stores, which have to charge taxes while online giants like can skirt state taxes.

“This is a bill that will even the playing field for a lot of brick-and-mortar businesses,” she said.

White pointed out that such a bill passed the House and Senate last year, only to get vetoed by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal.

This year, she said the bill has a good shot at becoming law.

“I feel really good about it,” she said.

White said she’s also authored a bill that would lower rewards paid out to merchants that pay their taxes early.

White said the reward scheme was an effort to encourage business owners to pay their taxes on time or early. Her proposed bill will cap rewards to businesses that pay over $102,000 per month in taxes, so most business owners will not notice any change.

“This will not affect 93 percent of small business owners,” said White.

So far, she said she has not seen any cuts in services put forward. However, White said the legislature will begin voting on bills by the middle of next week, so those bills may be around the corner.

The legislature must right the state’s budget by March 9 at 6 p.m. when the special session will come to a close.

The regular session begins March 14.

State Sen. Beth Mizell, a Republican, could not be reached by press time Friday.