Organizations divided on amendment to ban real estate tax
The lone item on ballots across the state in the election Saturday is a constitutional ban on the state and municipalities imposing real estate transfer taxes. Louisiana's Realtors are pushing for the constitutional amendment, with unanimous support from lawmakers, as a pre-emptive strike. They say if the state, parishes or cities put a tax on the sale or transfer of homes and property, the tax could price some people out of the housing market, making them unable to afford a home. Louisiana Realtors has established a website on the amendment at staytaxfree.com. Other groups, however, question the need for a statewide ban on a tax that doesn't yet exist and say local governments and their voters should decide if such taxes are needed. The nonpartisan Council for a Better Louisiana says it doesn't favor adding such restrictions to the state constitution and sees no compelling reason for the amendment because "it's hard to imagine any political traction for this type of tax in the foreseeable future." The League of Women Voters of Louisiana also opposes the amendment, saying it would limit local governments' ability to fund their own needs. Thirty-seven states have some variation of real estate transfer taxes. Louisiana doesn't have such a statewide provision, but New Orleans has had a property transfer tax in place for decades. Under the constitutional amendment, New Orleans would be grandfathered in and allowed to keep its tax but not raise it. Gov. Bobby Jindal, who opposes tax increases, supports the constitutional amendment, according to his spokesman.
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