In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, Louisiana collected $17.4 billion in state and local taxes. While this is an impressive sum of money, it tells us little about whether or not the average Louisiana taxpayer can afford this level of taxation.
As shown in Chart 1 below, Louisiana state and local tax burden (tax collections divided by personal income) was the fourteenth lowest in the nation for FY 2013 at 9.2 percent—this is -10 percent below the national average of 10.3 percent.
As shown in Chart 2, Louisiana is one of only five state whose tax burden has fallen over time by -13 percent to 9.2 percent in FY 2013 from 10.6 percent in FY 1950—the other four states are Arizona (-2 percent), Florida (-16 percent), Oklahoma (-3 percent), and South Dakota (-23 percent).
Louisiana’s low state and local tax burden is driven by their property tax (2 percent, 46th highest), individual income tax (1.4 percent, 40th), and low corporate income tax (0.13 percent, 44th highest). However, these low taxes are offset by higher than average sales taxes (3.6 percent, 7th highest).
Of course, the tax burdens for local government can vary just as much as they do among the 50 states. As such, we have also calculated the local government tax burden for every parish (county equivalent) in Louisiana—this includes every taxing jurisdiction within the geographic parish borders whether it is a city, a special district, or parish government itself.
The Louisiana parishes with the highest local government tax burden include: Cameron Parish, LA (16.8 percent), De Soto Parish, LA (15.7 percent), and Bienville Parish, LA (11.3 percent). The Louisiana parishes with the lowest local government tax burden include: St. Helena Parish, LA (1.9 percent), East Feliciana Parish, LA (2 percent), and Avoyelles Parish, LA (2 percent).
J. Scott Moody has nearly 20 years experience as a public policy economist with a specialty in tax policy and has over 180 publications. He has worked for numerous national and state-based think tanks such as the American Conservative Union Foundation, Federalism In Action, Tax Foundation, Heritage Foundation, and The Maine Heritage Policy Center.