La. Governor Issues Executive Order Regarding ITEP

On February 21, 2024, Governor Jeff Landry issued Executive Order No. JML 24-23 (EO No. 23-24) providing for the conditions for participation in the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP). The ITEP provides for a property tax exemption for manufacturing facilities. Under the Louisiana Constitutional, art. 7, Section 21(F), subject to terms approved by the Governor, the Board of Commerce and Industry (BCI) may grant an exemption contract to a manufacturing facility for an initial 5 year term and a renewal term of 5 years. The ITEP can be up to a 100% abatement of property taxes for the manufacturer. Under Governor Edwards, the abatement was capped at 80% for most new projects and local government approval was required.

Under EO No. 23-24, Governor Landry has retained the 80% abatement for advance project notifications filed on or after February 21, 2024. EO No. 23-23 specifically does not apply to advance project notifications or ITEP contracts signed before February 21, 2024. EO No. 23-24 contemplates the approval of a “Local ITEP Committee” composed of local elected officials; however, the approval of the Local ITEP Committee will not be dispositive of the ultimate approval of the ITEP by the BCI or the Governor. In addition, under EO No. 23-24, the Louisiana Department of Revenue (DOR) will review each ITEP application and must provide a letter of approval or no objection. EO No. 23-24 does not define the parameters of the LDR’s review of the ITEP Application.

EO No. 23-24 can be found here.

If you have questions on ITEP, contact Jones Walker SALT partner, Jay Adams.

Council on State Taxation Appoints New President and Executive Director

The Board of Directors for the Council On State Taxation (COST) is thrilled to announce that Patrick Reynolds has been appointed as the new President and Executive Director of COST, effective March 1, 2024. He will succeed Doug Lindholm, who has served in this role since 1999. The Board and staff are eager to collaborate with Pat as he navigates COST through the ever-changing state and local tax landscape.

Our Jones Walker SALT Team sends a huge congratulations to Pat and the whole COST family!

Click here to read the full press release from COST.

Equifax Rises from Its Grave; Will the Mississippi Supreme Court Finally Bury this Procedural Monster for Good?

Mississippi Taxpayers should keep a very close eye on the Toolpushers Supply sales tax case just granted certiorari by the Mississippi Supreme Court.  This case addresses important sales tax issues related to wholesale sales and the extent to which a seller must audit its purchaser’s downstream use of the goods on purported resale transactions.  More importantly, perhaps, the case seriously jeopardizes key tax appellate reforms that the Legislature overwhelmingly enacted in 2014 in direct response to the thoroughly criticized 2013Equifax alternative apportionment case.

The substantive sales tax issue in this case is the extent to which a seller can rely on a purchaser’s valid resale permit when deciding whether to treat a sale as a wholesale or retail transaction.  Mississippi’s wholesale sales statute contains a “good faith” requirement that the seller must determine whether the customer was a retailer regularly selling or renting that property.  The case involved sales to an oilfield service provider holding a valid retail sales tax permit, but the Department assessed the seller based on the position that the purchaser later consumed those products instead of reselling them.  The negligible “record” in the case suggested that the seller accepted the permit at face value without any further inquiry (a disputed assertion in the case).  If upheld, the holding suggests that every seller must perform a much more laborious – but undefined – examination of its customer’s planned use of the goods in determining whether the transaction is eligible for wholesale treatment.  While there appear to be substantial factual questions in this case going to that “good faith” requirement, it could require substantial alternation of internal policies and procedures for wholesale sellers going forward.

The more important question in the case, however, may be procedural.  In direct response to widespread criticism and concern about the Equifax decision in 2013, the Mississippi Legislature overwhelmingly approved fundamental changes to the tax appeals statutes to expressly provide for true de novo appeals of tax cases before the chancery court.  In fact, the amended Section 27-77-7 explicitly prohibited application of the more deferential “arbitrary and capricious” standard of review relied upon to such consternation in the Equifax decision.  This express prohibition and statement of intent was necessary after the Supreme Court concluded in Equifax that when the Legislature originally used the term “de novo” under the older version of the appeals statute, it really meant arbitrary and capricious. 

To preclude such a misconstruction of intent in future cases, the Legislature added a new provision mandating that “[t]he chancery court is expressly prohibited from trying any action filed pursuant to this section using the more limited standard of review specified for appeals in Section 27-77-13 of this chapter.”  That cross-referenced code section, governing appeals of permit denials, etc., requires the application of the historic “arbitrary and capricious” standard of review which is more appropriate in those circumstances because an actual evidentiary record is created below to enable a review on that basis.  In the typical sales, use, income and franchise tax context, however, no evidentiary record is created at the Board of Tax Appeals or Review Board, so application of a true de novo standard with a full evidentiary trial is necessary at the chancery court level.

The Court of Appeals in Toolpushers cited the Supreme Court’s analysis in Equifax to again discount the statutory de novo reference and impose the old arbitrary and capricious standard, perhaps unaware of the relationship of that very case to the new statutory standard.  The Court of Appeals never acknowledged, cited, or analyzed the new sentence in Section 27-77-7 expressly prohibiting it from applying the lesser standard of review.

If the Supreme Court upholds the Court of Appeals’ analysis on the standard of review, it could be near impossible for taxpayers to prevail on a judicial appeal under the weaker Equifax standard in the absence of any evidentiary record to review.  This case will be extraordinarily important for both pending and future tax appeals. 

Jones Walker SALT Practice Expands in Florida

Jones Walker LLP announced the firm has reestablished its Tallahassee, Florida, office effective immediately. The new office expansion is the direct result of a successful and long-standing strategic alliance with Florida’s Dean Mead law firm. A total of nine attorneys and government relations professionals have joined Jones Walker, including partner French Brown and special counsel Dan McGinn in the Tax Practice Group, to maximize a larger client delivery platform while continuing to work closely with Dean Mead attorneys, consistent with the strategic partnership that began in 2019.  

French Brown joins Jones Walker after six years at Dean Mead. Over the course of his career as a Florida state and local tax lawyer, and through his work as a lobbyist and government relations advisor before the Florida Legislature, French has been involved in all major tax legislation in the state in recent decades. He offers clients legal advice on the full spectrum of Florida taxes, including sales, corporate income, motor fuels, communications services, property, and documentary stamp taxes. Early in his career, French served as deputy director of the Office of Technical Assistance and Dispute Resolution of the Florida Department of Revenue, where he oversaw more than 50 department attorneys, accountants, and auditors in charge of legal guidance, agency rulemaking, and informal audit protests. He also served as the department’s legislative and cabinet affairs director. In this role, French worked directly with legislators, long-standing legislative staff, the governor, and cabinet offices.

Since returning to private practice, French has been a key contributor to and advocate for significant tax legislation moving through the Florida capitol. As representative for some of the state’s largest trade associations and taxpayers, he has directly worked on and advocated for tax legislation to benefit companies and taxpayers alike. French’s work has contributed to billions of dollars in reduced state and local taxes, including more than a billion dollars in corporate income tax refunds paid in 2020 and 2022. He also was instrumental in promoting Florida’s adoption of remote seller and marketplace facilitator provisions following the US Supreme Court’s 2018 Wayfair decision.

In 2018, French served as counsel to the successful constitutional proposal to permanently preserve the state’s annual 10% cap on commercial property tax increases, which passed with 66.5% of the public vote. In the course of his efforts, he advocated for his clients before the Constitutional Revision Commission to further the development of sound state tax and budget policies. In addition to his legislative work, French assists his clients with Florida tax planning and controversies before the Department of Revenue and local property appraisers.

Dan McGinn returns to Jones Walker after four years at Dean Mead. Dan represents businesses and individuals before Florida’s Department of Revenue and in courts throughout Florida in state and local tax matters. Drawing on his experience and deep knowledge of relevant regulatory frameworks, Dan devises creative solutions for his clients’ concerns and helps them achieve desired outcomes.

He also counsels clients on a broad range of regulatory compliance and legislative advocacy matters, with an emphasis on issues involving Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, which is tasked with the enforcement of numerous laws and regulations — including Prohibition-era codes — that have failed to keep pace with the demands of innovation-focused industries and businesses. In addition, Dan practices before Florida’s Gaming Control Commission, advocating for sensible gaming regulation and fair application of the prohibitions against illegal gambling.

The Tallahassee office is among the firm’s 16 locations in eight states and the District of Columbia.

Alysse McLoughlin to Present at NYSBA Annual Meeting


Alysse McLoughlin, a partner on the state & local tax team will speak during the tax section of the New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting on Tuesday, January 16, 2024. Alysse’s panel will address new developments in New York State tax law. Click here for the tax section agenda and to register.

Governor-elect Jeff Landry Announces Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue

Governor-elect Jeff Landry announced today appointments to the Louisiana Department of Revenue.

  • Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue: Richard Nelson
  • Under-Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue: Jarrod Coniglio
  • Legislative Liaison of the Louisiana Department of Revenue: James Lee

“I am happy to make these announcements today, and I look forward to working with these highly qualified individuals,” said Governor-elect Jeff Landry. “I have confidence that their experience, knowledge, and leadership will greatly benefit our state.”

Background:

Richard Nelson-Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue:

Richard grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. He earned a degree in Biological Engineering from LSU before attending LSU Law School. After graduating from law school, he was selected for the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State and moved to Washington. He served all over the world for seven years as a State Department Officer and diplomat, protecting American embassies overseas from terrorism and espionage. Just months before their next overseas assignment, Richard had the opportunity to move his family home to Mandeville. He was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2019 where he focused on improving Louisiana’s tax competitiveness and elementary school literacy. Richard is an engineer, attorney, and runs his own consulting firm. He and his family attend Christ Episcopal Church in Covington. Richard is committed to improving the opportunity for his three sons, Michael, 9, Arthur, 7, and Jack, 4, and for all the citizens of this great state.

Jarrod Coniglio–Under-Secretary of the Department of Revenue:

Jarrod Coniglio has over 30+ years of experience that includes senior-level oversight of the Louisiana Department of Health’s Medicaid Program Integrity section and executive-level oversight of the entire State of Louisiana’s Department of Revenue and its day-to-day operations. He led direction over the prevention, detection and recovery of Medicaid fraud, and abuse of providers and ineligible recipients. Jarrod currently resides in Walker, Louisiana.

James Lee-Legislative Liaison of the Department of Revenue:

James Lee was raised in Metairie, Louisiana. He is a graduate of Archbishop Rummel and Louisiana State University. He is the former Campaign Manager for Richard Nelson for Governor. He joined Americans for Prosperity – Louisiana in 2014, and eventually served as Deputy State Director and State Director. He advocated for state and federal tax reform to simplify the tax code, lower rates, and eliminate burdensome taxes.

Bill Backstrom Honored With COST Paul Frankel Excellence in State Taxation Award

Jones Walker LLP is proud to announce partner and Tax Practice Group leader Bill Backstrom received the 2023 Council On State Taxation (COST) Paul Frankel Excellence in State Taxation Award at a ceremony during the COST Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 19, 2023. The Paul Frankel Excellence in State Taxation Award is presented annually to individuals making outstanding contributions to the state and local tax (SALT) profession. Paul Frankel, a well-known SALT attorney often described as “the godfather of state and local taxation,” was the inaugural recipient of the award in 2009.

“Bill is truly a trailblazer in the state and local tax arena, and he lives the values practiced by Paul Frankel in his personal and professional life,” stated COST president and executive director Doug Lindholm. “He is deeply committed to COST and the state tax profession and to mentoring the next generation of state and local tax attorneys.”

Over the years, Bill has not only established himself in the state tax field but also has become one of the most renowned SALT attorneys in the United States. Some of his career highlights include helping the state of Louisiana pass a tax package designed to help businesses impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, leading the taxpayers’ litigation team to strike down an illegal regulation of the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) in the landmark case UTELCOM Inc. v. Dep’t of Revenue, and working on numerous tax legislative efforts to support business retention and growth in Louisiana. Bill is especially proud of the growth of the Jones Walker SALT team and his work in mentoring the next generation of SALT professionals.

“In addition to being a nationally recognized figure in the state and local tax bar, Bill has been the leader of Jones Walker’s full Tax Practice Group for many years, presiding over a great period of growth and success. Additionally, his leadership skills, personality, and sense of humor have made him a firm leader in the broadest sense and a good friend of clients and fellow attorneys,” said Jones Walker managing partner Bill Hines.

Speaking on Bill’s achievement, Kimberly Lewis, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Louisiana State University, former LDR secretary, and former Jones Walker partner, said, “Bill Backstrom has been one of the greatest influences in my professional life. He has been a mentor, a friend, a confidant, a co-conspirator, and a cheerleader.”

Bill and the Jones Walker SALT team have carved out a particular niche in helping businesses identify and utilize tax and business incentives and credits, as well as navigate the treacherous waters of state and local taxation in Louisiana and numerous other states. In addition to his notable career work, Bill and the SALT team run the Cooking with SALT blog. Created in 2014, Cooking with SALT provides timely insights on recent legal and practical developments concerning clients in many state and local taxing jurisdictions on matters involving income, franchise, net worth, gross receipts, sales/use, business and occupational licenses, severance, ad valorem property, and other miscellaneous taxes.

About Jones WalkerJones Walker LLP (joneswalker.com) is among the largest 135 law firms in the United States. With offices in Alabama, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, and Texas, we serve local, regional, national, and international business interests. The firm is committed to providing a comprehensive range of legal services to major multinational public and private corporations, Fortune 500 companies, money center banks, worldwide insurers, and emerging companies doing business in the United States and abroad.

About the Council On State TaxationThe Council On State Taxation (COST) is the premier state tax organization representing taxpayers. COST is a nonprofit trade association consisting of more than 500 multistate corporations engaged in interstate and international business. COST’s objective is to preserve and promote equitable and nondiscriminatory state and local taxation of multijurisdictional business entities. COST was formed in 1969 by a handful of companies under the aegis of the Council of State Chambers of Commerce, an organization with which COST is still associated.

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Jones Walker Presents Annual State & Local Tax Seminar in Houston, TX on September 28 – Registration Open!

The Jones Walker LLP State and Local Tax Team is back live and in-person with a day-long program on September 28, 2023, titled Jones Walker: Live from TV Land! This state and local tax seminar will address all the relevant issues that have been picked up for a new season, as well as discuss and preview all the new additions to the lineup. First, you will be guided through the Rules of Engagement of state and local tax protest. Then, get ready to deal with all the legislative and administrative updates that are grabbing the attention of viewers. Next, we will go through the Growing Pains of software and sourcing.

Join us at lunch and see Who’s the Boss? featuring a moderated panel of key state tax administrators from Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Alabama. The administrators will provide their perspective on recent tax developments.

  • Ray Langenberg, Special Counsel for Tax Litigation, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
  • Chris Graham, Commissioner, Mississippi Department of Revenue
  • Mary Martin Mitchell, Executive Counsel, Alabama Department of Revenue
  • Kevin Richard, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Revenue
  • Arthur Parham, Moderator, General Tax Advisor – Entergy (Retired)

Next, it’s time for Jeopardy! with an interactive game addressing various recent hot SALT topics. We’ll then check out SALT case updates and Get Smart with a national update. Afterwards, we’ll wrap things up with a Q&A.

When: Thursday, September 28 | 8:00 am – 5:30 pm

Where: Hilton Americas-Houston | 1600 Lamar St | Houston, TX 77010

Fee: $150 per registrant
Company group rate: $150 for first registrant, $100 for each subsequent registrant

Your registration will not be confirmed until we have received your registration fee. Cancellations received less than 48 hours in advance will not be refunded.

Questions or To Register: Contact Courtney Farley at cfarley@joneswalker.com

This program is intended for tax professionals with starter to advanced state & local tax experience and those doing business in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and along the Gulf Coast. Program not open to tax collectors. This course or a portion thereof has been approved by the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Committee of the Louisiana State Bar Association for a maximum of 7 hours credit. An application for accreditation of this activity has been submitted to the MCLE Committee of the State Bar of Texas and is pending. The full program has been recommended for 9.25 hours of Texas CPE. NO PREREQUISITES REQUIRED. No advanced preparation necessary. Cancellations received two business days before the selected program will not receive a refund. We are able to offer attendee substitutions at no charge. For more information regarding administrative policies, please contact Courtney Farley at cfarley@joneswalker.com.

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