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Why do I have to pay Louisiana sales tax on my online purchases?

Louisiana is one of many states in the country that requires state residents to pay sales tax on purchases made online from out-of-state companies. This is authorized under Louisiana Revised Statute 47:302(K). State residents are expected to remit any monies due to the Louisiana Department of Revenue (DOR).

State lawmakers decided to institute this law after realizing that many out-of-state retailers didn't charge sales tax on many high-priced goods that consumers purchased. Items that consumers avoided paying taxes on included computers, books, clothing, electronics, furniture and jewelry.

They realized that many Louisianans would purchase things online, through television shopping channels and mail-order catalogs because they knew that they wouldn't have to pay sales tax on them. Before signing the amended bill into law, many Louisiana lawmakers argued that this practice didn't just rob Louisiana companies of a sale, but it cost the state much-needed tax revenue that they could have made.

Since this law has gone into effect, products that were originally assessed a 9 percent sales tax rate are now only taxed 8.45 percent. Of that amount collected, 4 percent ends up getting distributed to your local government by the DOR.

Taxpayers have two options for paying the sales tax that they owe. They can either pay it along with their state income taxes annually or file a Form R-1035 by the 20th day of the month after the nontaxed purchase was originally made.

While the stories you hear in the media are generally about the DOR going after individuals or companies that have engaged in large-scale efforts to avoid paying taxes they owe, they're beginning to crack down on individuals engaging in smaller schemes as well. Whether you're being audited or you're just looking for answers about what you owe, an experienced Lafayette tax law attorney can help you navigate that.

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