Even though Chinquapin Parish, Louisiana was the fictional location that served as the setting for Steel Magnolias1, a play and movie about the special bond between a group of women in a small-town, and how they cope with the death of one of their own, I would almost bet that many of our readers ‘cried their eyes out’ at some point while reading the story or viewing the film. By the way, the 1989 movie was filmed, almost exclusively within Natchitoches, Louisiana and much of the story-line scenery was adapted to make the most of actual physical locations and regular traditions found in that small town. Now I am not saying that the novel or movie reflect the ‘environment’ of all of Louisiana, but obviously a part of it. Did you know that Louisiana is the only state in the US with governmental subdivisions referred to as ‘parishes’, which are closely akin to ‘counties’ in other states?
Louisiana is the 25th most populous state in the United States at 4.7-million residents, and the 31st most extensive at 51,843 square miles.
Literally thousands of square miles of the state are covered by water in the form of swamps, marshlands, rivers, lakes, and tributaries. In order to reclaim land for use, miles of levees and dykes separate dry ground from wet, and fresh water from brackish or salt water.
Louisiana has some of the greatest multicultural and multilingual heritage of anywhere in the United States with influences of French, Spanish, African and Native American. Before being purchased in 1803 the area of Louisiana had been both French and Spanish colonies, both of whom had imported African slave laborers in the 18th century. The area had also one of the largest Native American populations of anywhere in the south prior to their forced migration into Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. (If a lot of this sounds like last week’s story about Mississippi, you are right, they share much the same heritage.)
While Baton Rouge is the state’s capital city, it is only the 2nd largest city in the state, behind New Orleans. (By the way if you missed this past summer’s Scaling New Heights in NOLA, then you missed a great conference.) New Orleans was considerably larger in terms of population prior to Hurricane Katrina, today the city is nearly 400,000 residents. Other major cities include Shreveport, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Bossier City, Monroe and Alexandria.
Louisiana is a large agricultural state as well as a shipping magnet. Aquaculture is among the most prominent agricultural products including Gulf Seafood, Farm raised fish, Crawfish, Shrimp, Oysters and so forth. Other agricultural products include cotton, soybeans, sugarcane, poultry and eggs, cattle and dairy products and rice. The Port of South Louisiana located on the Mississippi River between Baton Route and New Orleans is the largest shipping port in the United States (and Western Hemisphere for that matter). Petroleum production, mostly via off-shore platform rigs, as well as petroleum refining and portage/transportation are other major sources of the state economy.
Tourism and cultural events are major contributors to Louisiana’s economy and a lot of that income centers on ‘food’, because Louisiana’s costal location and historic background have contributed to some of the ‘best food on the planet’ (that’s my opinion).
For example, the ‘Creole’ culture which is based in a little French, Spanish, African and Native American influences are responsible for major spice and recipe origination, as is the ‘Acadian’ (aka: ‘Cajun’) culture that came from west central France to the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The third group which has contributed so much to the ‘food draw’ of Louisiana is the ‘Isleno’ culture made up of descendants of the Canary Islanders, originally a Spanish colony. All of these influences, and their blending over 300 years, has produced distinctive regional food traditions that are now known worldwide as ‘the tastes of Louisiana.’
But food isn't the only 'cultural phenomena' associated with Louisiana, I mean what would the world be without 'the music of Louisiana'. As it happens all of these same cultural influences that led to cuisine for the taste-buds, also produce sounds for the ears and those sounds have taken the form of everything from Zydeco to Dixieland jazz, from the blues to Afro-Caribbean rhythms, from Cajun music to Swamp pop, from Country to Gospel. The sounds flow through Louisiana, from Southern Louisiana and New Orleans to Northern Louisiana music abounds and is a life force for residents and visitors alike. It like the food is what, to a big part, makes Louisiana, "Louisiana"!
Louisiana became the 18th U.S. state on April 30, 1812, but seceded from the Union on January 26, 1861 and became part of the Confederacy. Even though Louisiana has progressed since the days of the Civil War, they have maintained a political and legal structure evidencing several elements from the times of French and Spanish governance. One is the governmental subdivision known as the parish (from the French: paroisse) in place of counties (as found in all other U.S. states) for administrative subdivision. Another is a legal system based upon civil law taken from French, German, and Spanish principles, as opposed to English common law that forms the foundation of law found in most states. This civil law governs most of the business, property, contractual, civil and family law aspects of legal process even today in Louisiana.
- Louisiana is named in honor of King Louis XIV.
- The state capitol building in Baton Rouge is the tallest in the U.S. at 450 feet and 34 floors.
- New Orleans is famous for its Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) celebration. It starts after Twelfth Night on Epiphany and ends of Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The official symbolic colors of Mardi Gras are purple (justice), gold (power) and green (faith).
- The New Orleans and Carrolliton Line is the oldest streetcar railway line still in operation.
- Famous folks who hail from Mississippi include authors Frances Keyes and Truman Capote, adventurer Jim Bowie, singers and pianists Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, Actress Reese Witherspoon, musician Louis Armstrong, fitness enthusiast Richard Simmons, and fashion designer Geoffrey Beene.
- The Atchafalaya Basin is the largest freshwater basin in the world.
About Sales Tax and this Series:
Thanks to Avalara, the 'tax people', this article is one in a 50 part series covering sales tax issues associated with each and every state tax jurisdiction in the United States. We have been publishing a "Sales Tax Tuesday" article (almost) every week this year; and we are getting really close to our ’50 weeks’.
Sales tax provides critical revenue for states as well as many counties and cities. Other than property and income tax, sales tax is the largest source of tax revenue in the majority of the 46 states that collect it. From a government perspective, making sure every sales tax dollar is collected, through audits, fines, penalties rates and rules, is an exercise for income. It’s easy to be lured into a false sense of compliance when it comes to sales tax, this series is intended to insure that you are aware of the key sales tax facts for YOUR state.
Note: For sales tax definitions and essentials check out the opening article to this series.
Louisiana Sales Tax Facts:
- The state sales tax rate is 4%, but can be as high as 11% with local taxes.
- Louisiana is one of four states that allows total “home rule” by localities. The other three are Alabama, Arizona and Colorado. In these home-rule states, local jurisdictions may make their own determination of nexus (while adhering to state laws).
- Louisiana is a destination-based sourcing states. This means that sales tax is based on the location of the buyer, not the seller.
- Louisiana is not a Streamlined Sales Tax (SST) state.
- Louisiana allows three sales tax holidays annually. It is one of two states (along with Mississippi) that has a Second Amendment sales tax holiday every September. This is a tax-free shopping period for hunting supplies and equipment, ammunition, and firearms.
- It is the only state to have a tax-free holiday (two days in August) on tangible personal property (up to $2,500).
- A third sales tax holiday in May allows tax-free purchases related to hurricane preparedness.
- Louisiana also offers merchants a credit of up to $25 for costs associated with having to reprogram point-of-sale or other electronic invoicing systems to accommodate changes in the sales tax rate or base.
Did You Know?
Late call. Louisiana’s tax amnesty program allows delinquent taxpayers to bring their account current by paying 100% back taxes owed plus a percentage of the interest and penalties with the remainder waived. The program was set to start November 16, but was delayed due to technical difficulties. It will now run December 1 - 31, 2015. This will be the last time Louisiana hosts a tax amnesty period until 2025.
Local fair. Louisiana’s Cottage Food Law allows for and regulates the retail sale of certain home-prepared items such as cookies, cakes, pies, jams, jellies and pickled produce among others at farmers’ markets, retail stores, restaurants and other venues. The law was amended in 2014 to include more “low risk” foods as allowed. In Louisiana, sellers must obtain both a general (state) and local sales tax certificates before making any sales.
Manual sales and use tax management is prone to errors, that's one reason Louisiana has a sales tax amnesty program. Sales tax collection, accounting, remittance and reporting also consumes valuable staff time in what can only be described as pass-through rather than revenue-generating activities. But there is an easier way, Avalara provides solutions for sales tax automation, including tax calculation, exemption certificate management, returns processing and 1099 filing and reporting. Automation via AvaTax allows businesses to be fully sales tax compliant without sacrificing productivity.
1 - Steel Magnolias - a play (1987), and movie (1989) adapted from (by) an original short story (1986) by Robert Harling, Based in part on the life and death of Harling's sister 'Susan', who serves as the model for the fictitious character 'Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie' within the literary work(s).