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Vehicle sales tax bill paused in Louisiana House

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(The Center Square) – A bill that would have given tax relief to new Louisiana residents registering their vehicles has been paused by a committee in the House of Representatives.

House Bill 530 is sponsored by Rep. Rodney Wayne Schamerhorn, R-Hornbeck. It included vehicles purchased years before.

No member of the House Ways and Means Committee offered a motion at the Monday meeting. The deadline for a third reading and passage of measures in the originating chamber is May 31.

Rep. Michael Echols, R-Monroe, said he’s “all in favor of getting rid of this stuff,” but he’d have to ask the mayors of the three cities in his district for specific data on how much would be lost if the tax was repealed.

Schamerhorn first version of similar legislation died without a floor vote last year.

“This is to eliminate the excessive tax for someone moving into the state of Louisiana,” Schamerhorn said. “I’ve received numerous emails, calls and texts by people who are surprised when they go to register their vehicles how much it costs them. We want people to be coming to Louisiana and we want people to not be penalized.

“On top of my electric bills and my deposits on rent, now I have to register my vehicle and get hit with $4,000, $5,000 to register my vehicle depending on the year and the value of that vehicle.”

He used the example of Texas, which has a vehicle sales tax of 6.25%. He said that someone who has been driving a vehicle for years must pay a 3.5% tax when they go to register their vehicle.

He said while local communities would take a tax hit, they’d more than make up for it with sales and gas tax revenues from new residents.

A fiscal note puts this hit at $8 million to $10 million annually, but the Office of Motor Vehicles and the Louisiana Financial Office say the amount could be greater.

The note also says the bill could affect as many as 70,000 vehicles.

Fees for license plates in Louisiana are based on the assessed value and ranging from $20 to $82. But where new residents run into trouble is the state’s 4.45% road use tax, which is assessed on the fair market value of a vehicle.

A credit for the sales tax paid at purchase in the other state can be issued if Louisiana has a reciprocity agreement with that state. Seven states have no agreement with the Pelican State, meaning new Louisiana residents pay the full tax hit.