Giving Taxpayers a Level Playing Field
Since 1940, Louisiana taxpayers have faced a rigged system when fighting disputed tax bills. The state of Louisiana has been able to employ private attorneys to fight such cases. When the taxpayer loses, an additional ten percent is added to the bill in order to pay the private attorneys employed by the state. But when the taxpayer wins such a dispute, the state has no obligation to pay the attorney fees incurred by the taxpayer.
Louisiana Senate Bill 268, as it presently stands, would get rid off this additional fee. Louisiana could pay its attorneys a “reasonable amount” up to ten percent of the amount collected, as opposed to levy an an additional ten percent on the final taxpayer bill.
This is a step in the right direction. But it would be better to just eliminate the commission system. Contingent attorneys fees encourage the collectors to maximize revenue rather than finding the most just and equitable resolution to the dispute. After all, tax collectors are supposed to be public servants, working for the best of interests of everyone in the state, including the taxpayers.
The bill has passed the Senate and awaits action in the House.