Are the state's $1.3 billion tax incentives worth the investment?

Are the state's $1.3 billion tax incentives worth the investment?

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The State of Louisiana spends around $1.3 billion a year on 79 different tax credits and rebates. In total though, the state spends more than $7 billion on more than 460 tax incentives.

An audit released Monday looked specifically at the 79 tax credit and rebates and how much the six agencies receiving those incentives are actually getting back in the form of a return.

The six agencies receiving the money are supposed to file annual reports reporting their return from the investments. However, the audit found that only half of the agencies reported timely and accurate reports. Plus, only 5 of the 79 reports were filed.

"A return on an investment is really important, because we're losing revenue voluntarily," said State Legislator Daryl Purpera. "We're losing revenue for a purpose and so the state wants to get a return on its investment."

Purpera gave the example of the film industry getting tax credits. For every $1 the state provides in tax credits to the film industry, he said the film industry spends $5 additional in Louisiana on things like food. But the state is only getting between $0.18 - $0.20 returned in tax revenues from the $1. That means, the state is losing up to $0.80 per dollar.

Back in 2013, a law was passed trying to figure out if all the tax credits and rebates the state offers are working.

"You can't manage what you can't measure," said State Treasurer John Kennedy.

Kennedy said it's unacceptable that state agencies fail to report especially when legislators are trying to fix a $1.8 billion budget deficit.

"They're down there fighting right now to fund education, fund roads and fund health care, and you have three agencies that didn't even bother to file reports," said Kennedy.

The audit suggested to legislators to possibly come up with a universal formula for all six state agencies to use to determine if there was a return from the tax credits and how much.

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