Industry desperately seeking clarity on ITEP in Louisiana

Jerry Jones, in his second term as chairman of the state Board of Commerce & Industry, says it’s been difficult navigating ITEP requests since the changes implemented by Gov. John Bel Edwards. (Photography by Don Kadair)

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ first-term executive order effectively tied the state’s beleaguered Industrial Tax Exemption Program to job creation and approval from local governments, but it also opened the floodgates on a variety of procedural questions.

Case in point—a recent move by Bollinger Shipyards to transfer a portion of its $8 million property tax exemption from St. Mary Parish to Orleans Parish had everyone, including the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry, scratching their heads.

While Edwards’ order gives local governing bodies a seat at the table when tax exemption decisions are made, they’ll not have the opportunity to reject or approve the Bollinger transfer, despite the transfer request occurring some four years after the original advance notification. That’s because companies do not have to receive local approval if they submitted their notice prior to June 24, 2016, the date of the order. Bollinger submitted its notice in 2015.

This has created some confusion for the Orleans Parish tax assessor and even the BCI, particularly because the company didn’t apply for the transfer until July 31, 2019, after transfer of the assets to Orleans Parish.

Jerry Jones, in his second term as chairman of the BCI, says the Bollinger transfer request is indicative of the issues faced by the board at every meeting. He leans heavily on LED’s advice when ITEP questions arise, although recent turnovers in the department have made that more difficult. These questions of policy seem to underscore industry’s primary argument—that the unpredictability of ITEP makes it harder for Louisiana to attract investment.

Read the full story from Business Report about the ongoing problems with ITEP in Louisiana.