E-Fairness

StayLocal is a part of the Louisiana Coalition for E-Fairness, a partnership between StayLocal, Greater New Orleans, Inc., and the Louisiana Retailers Association working with Louisiana businesses to resolve sales tax discrepancies between brick & mortar retailers and out of state online sellers that hinder local businesses’ ability to compete and grow their business.

StayLocal and our partners worked on the state level to push for legislation that would allow Louisiana to collect sales tax from big box online retailers like Amazon, thereby helping local businesses compete more fairly. We want our local businesses to be able to compete effectively and grow their business, and in turn, contribute to statewide economic growth and job creation.

Read more about E-Fairness >


Update! 

Recently, WWL reported that Senator John Kennedy is unhappy about the new e-fairness legislation citing that 1) the state should not charge consumers sales tax for online purchases, 2) the Louisiana Department of Revenue is not fairly enforcing the law, and 3) the law threatens to “kill the internet.” Kennedy’s comments not only contain several inaccuracies but also overlook how this policy supports Louisiana businesses by leveling the playing field and allowing them to compete fairly with online retailers. Read our response here.



There are two e-fairness House Bills in Louisiana

HB30 - Act 87 "The affiliate legislation"

  • HB30 passed in February 2016 in a special budget session and was signed in to law by Governor Edwards in March 2016.

  • HB30 says that when remote retailers (which are mostly online mega-retailers) have affiliates in Louisiana, the affiliates are considered a physical presence in the state. Therefore, remote retailers are responsible for collecting sales tax in Louisiana.
  • In response, Amazon severed ties with their Louisiana affiliates in order to circumvent the legislation.
  • HB1121 addresses Amazon's attempted circumvention.


HB1121 - Act 569 "The notification legislation"

  • HB1121 passed in March 2016 in regular session and was signed in to law by Governor Edwards in June 2016. 
  • HB1121 says that if remote retailers do not collect sales tax at the point of purchase, at the end of the year they have to notify their Louisiana customers how much total state sales tax the customers owe on their income tax return. 
  • This tracking and notification process begins July 2017. 
  • Instead of notifying customers that they owe possibly hundreds of dollars in taxes from online shopping, Amazon voluntarily started collecting sales taxes at the point of purchase as of January 1, 2017.


Timeline

January 2017 - Amazon begins collecting sales tax in Louisiana on January 1, 2017! This ensures equal and fair taxation of brick- and-mortars (who have always collected sales tax) and online mega-retailers. Get the details.

June 2016 - Louisiana Senate passed E-fairness bill HB121 (vote of 90 yeas and 2 nays) that requires remote retailers to annually inform consumers much how much total sales tax they owe if retailers do not collect sales tax at the point of purchase. Read the bill.

March 2016 - Louisiana Senate passed E-fairness bill HB30 unanimously (vote of 38 yeas and 0 nays) that says remote retailers with Louisiana affiliates are responsible for collecting sales tax on LA sales! See our advocacy here and read the bill.

February 2016 - Governor John Bel Edwards called a special 6 week session
to resolve Louisiana's dire budget crisis - an estimated $1B shortfall for the remainder of this fiscal year and $2B projected for next year. During a session hearing Tom Lowenburg of Octavia Books and StayLocal's Executive Director Dana Eness testified before the House Ways & Means Committee in support of the E-Fairness bills. Similar provisions have been enacted or are being considered in dozens of other states. Doing so in Louisiana would increase revenue by tens of millions of dollars annually. Watch the recap!   

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June 2015 - E-Fairness bill Vetoed by Jindal. The e-fairness bill we worked diligently on was vetoed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. Our bill passed the State House 85-9, and passed the State Senate 95-0. Then Jindal vetoed the bill, offering no valid explaination. The legislature was already adjourned and would not return for a veto override session. The only good news is that we're fairly certain this will sail through next year.

May 2015 - The Louisiana House of Representatives passed the E-Fairness bill we were supporting to bring real fairness to how sales tax laws are applied to local and online businesses!

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April 2015 - Mark Strella, StayLocal’s past Program Manager, went to Baton Rouge with Leora of Pearl Wine Co. and Tom of Octavia Books to push for E-Fairness bills. The three bills that would address the issue of e-fairness for Louisiana business owners all passed out of the House Ways & Means Committee unanimously! 

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February 2015 - First meeting of Louisiana Coalition for E-Fairness with StayLocal, Greater New Orleans, Inc., and the Louisiana Retailers Association.

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January 2015 - StayLocal member Mike Massey of Massey's Professional Outfitters testifies on E-Fairness in New Orleans to the National Conference of State Legislators.

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July 2014 - Mary Landrieu demonstrated her leadership and support of Louisiana's local businesses by voting in favor of the Marketplace Fairness Act. Click here to view our Thank You Letter to Senator Landrieu

May 2014 - Tom Lowenberg, of Octavia Books, Caitlin Berni of Greater New Orleans, Inc., Marty Mayer of Stirling Properties, and StayLocal’s past Program Manager, Mark Strella went on Angela Hill's radio show to talkabout E-Fairness. Listen to the podcast on WWL Radio here.

March 2014 - Louisiana Coalition for E-Fairness sent a Letter of Support to Louisiana's Congressional Delegation. Read it here

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Reports and Studies

Amazon and Empty Storefronts - Focusing on the industry leader, Amazon, this report by the American Booksellers Association on January 25, 2016 looks at two broad classes of impact: Fiscal (relating to public revenue) and Land Use (relating to development patterns at the local level). This report looks at calendar year 2014, the last year for which good data is available. Online sales have, of course, only grown since then. In addition, we focus exclusively on Amazon, which likely accounts for only 1/3 or less of total online retail. Read more >

State and Local Government Sales Tax Revenue Losses from Electronic Commerce - This 2009 University of Tennessee study projected that by 2012 overall sales tax revenue losses to e-commerce in LA would be about $395M. Read more >

2016 Independent Business Survey - The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has just released the results of its 2016 Independent Business Survey with results of 3200 businesses nationwide which found that 70% of businesses surveyed found internet commerce to be their largest challenge; that figure among Louisiana respondents is 65%. Read more >

Louisiana Coalition for E-Fairness Seeks to Level the Playing Field for Local Retailers - A LCIA interview with Mark Strella, StayLocal's past Program Manager, from 2015 discussing the importance of e-fairness and the Louisiana Coalition for E-Fairness. Read more >