By MELINDA DESLATTE Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s sales tax collections from internet purchases are growing, even though the system still involves out-of-state retailers voluntarily remitting taxes for online product sales.
The state revenue department told a legislative commission that Louisiana received $740,000 in sales tax collections from large out-of-state companies for online sales from July to September. That doubled to $1.4 million during the October to December quarter, said Luke Morris, assistant secretary at the department.
“More remote sellers are voluntarily complying,” Morris told the panel. “The collections are steadily increasing.”
Voluntary remittances of sales tax have grown since a June ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for states to require the tax collections for online purchases from retailers who didn’t have a physical presence like a store or distribution center in a state.
A state sales tax commission has set rules for collecting taxes for online sales from large out-of-state retailers, defining who is subject to Louisiana sales tax, how they should register with the state and how they turn over the sales taxes they collect.
Morris said 592 companies that don’t have a physical store in Louisiana and only sell to residents through online sites have registered as “remote sellers” and are collecting sales taxes for online purchases.
“At some point, that will become mandatory, likely this year,” Morris said.
Revenue department officials have said they are working on a centralized software system that can charge out-of-state website retailers the 4.45 percent state sales tax rate and the varying local sales tax rates based on where the purchaser lives. In Louisiana, parishes levy their own local sales tax rates and usually handle sales tax collections.
For out-of-state companies that only do business in Louisiana through internet sales, the sales tax commission is serving as the single online sales tax collector, targeting those that have more than $100,000 in sales or more than 200 transactions in the state.
Until the centralized system is operating, the sales tax commission is collecting an 8.45 percent rate from online vendors located outside Louisiana who are voluntarily submitting the taxes — with 4.45 percent kept by the state and 4 percent divvied up among local governments.