New Orleans—like the rest of Louisiana—offers some of the most attractive business incentives in the nation. Generous tax breaks are extended to those in the hospitality business, the film industry, and food production and manufacturing. However, this generosity has not benefited most New Orleanians. In fact, tax exemptions doled out to major corporations over the past years have led to a loss of more than $16.7 billion in revenue.
While these tax dollar giveaways continued to flourish—often for projects that created zero new jobs for the economy—that same lost revenue could have gone toward improving schools, raising salaries for teachers, fixing transportation problems, and addressing racial health disparities. While a comfortable buffet of tax exemptions, credits, deductions, and rebates bolsters a select group of industries, public services continue to decline and our state ranks last in high school graduation rates.
Put People First will raise money to support candidates who will ensure that equitable tax reform will become a reality for our city. For too long ballot measures have done little more than entrench the current inequities and massage the status quo. For too long the wealthiest among us have paid less of their income in taxes while other demographics have struggled to make ends meet.
As the pandemic has worn on, million-dollar tax cuts were given to hotel chains and hospitality purveyors. While select commercial properties benefited from reduced assessments and taxes, most residential properties did not. In fact, in many cases homeowner reassessments rose, shifting the revenue burden once again from the wealthiest to middle and low wage earners. While large corporations racked up hundreds of thousands in tax breaks, families in some parts of the city lost their homes for a few thousand dollars in unpaid taxes.
A study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy describes how states like Louisiana can address wealth inequities by restructuring personal income tax. What we need are local lawmakers who will take up this cause and work locally and with others in the state to change this unjust and regressive system of taxation. If you believe you are paying more than your fair share of taxes, we invite you to become a tax activist and join us today.