January 29, 2009

Tax News

by Office of Public Information Staff
Act 396 of 2008, which repeals the "Stelly Tax Plan", became effective January 1, 2009. This means lower state income taxes for some taxpayers. These changes apply to 2009 Individual Income Tax Returns filed no later than May 15, 2010. The La. Dept. of Revenue will issue revised tax withholding tables for employers to begin using July 1, 2009. However, for those citizens who wish to reduce their state tax withholding immediately, the La. Dept. of Revenue has posted a 2009 State Income Tax Estimator on their Web site. Taxpayers may complete the Temporary Employee Exemption Certificate L-4 Form to reduce their income tax withholding immediately. Taxpayers who do so may need to complete a revised L-4 once employers implement the new tax tables on July 1, 2009, to make sure that the correct amount of state income tax is withheld for 2009.

In previous years, the Louisiana Department of Revenue provided an automatic extension to any Louisiana resident granted a federal tax extension. For 2009 and succeeding years, taxpayers needing an extension to file their state returns must request one via the department Web site or by completing the Application for Extension of Time to File Louisiana Individual Income Tax, Form R-2868, no later than the filing due date. The individual income tax filing due date for 2009 is May 15th for those filing 2008 calendar year income tax returns or, for fiscal filers, the 15th day of the fifth month after the close of the fiscal year. Extensions allow an additional six months to file a return but do not offer more time to pay any tax due. Late payments, as always, are subject to interest and penalties.

January 28, 2009

Lorusso Provides List of Potential Temporary Replacements

PHOTO: State Rep. Nick Lorusso (right) greets Shreveport native, General Charles Campbell after his address to the House of Reps. during the 2007 Regular Session. Lorusso, a Lieutenant Colonel in the JAG Corps Reserves has been ordered to active duty beginning February 9.

by Sheila McCant, Public Information Officer
Louisiana State Representative Nick Lorusso (R-New Orleans), who has been ordered to active duty by the U.S. Army, has submitted a list of nominees to temporarily replace him during his year of military duty.

State Constitutional Amendment No. 3 (Act 931 of the 2008 Regular Session)which was approved by voters last November, calls for a legislator ordered to active duty in the armed forces for a period of 180 days or more to submit the names of at least three nominees to be his temporary successor to the presiding officer of the house of the legislature of which he is a member. The nominees must meet the qualifications and eligibility required of legislators, i.e., be at least 18 years of age, a registered voter, a Louisiana resident for at least two years, and a resident of the legislative district he will represent for at least one year prior to running for office. Immediate family members of legislators cannot be nominated or chosen to serve in this capacity.

Rep. Lorusso has provided the following nominees to Speaker of the House Jim Tucker:

 Gregory L. Ernst, 44 – graduated from Jesuit High School, summa cum laude; Harvard College, cum laude, with a degree in Russian Studies; and Tulane University Law School; currently a partner in the law firm of Peuler & Ernst, specializing in Admiralty and Maritime Law; previously served as a staff attorney with the National Law Center on Homelessness and the Louisiana Mental Health Advocacy Service; served as a Summer Fellow for the Louisiana Department of Justice in the Environmental Enforcement Section; member of the Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel; Languages: Spanish and Russian.

 Thomas G. Fierke, 60 – graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Metallurgical Engineering and Minnesota Law School; earned an LL.M. in Taxation from Boston University Law School and graduated from the U.S. Army War College; currently serves as General Counsel for Lockheed Martin, Michoud Operations; Retired Colonel, U.S. Army Reserves, Special Forces and JAG Corps, including service in Tehran, Iran and Kuwait; board member of Greater New Orleans, Inc., City Park Board of Commissioners, Mayor’s Military Advisory Committee, and New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation.

 Steven L. Pettus, 49 - graduated from Millsaps College with a degree in Business and Loyola University Law School, with honors; currently serves as Managing Partner of Dickie Brennan & Company (comprising Palace CafĂ©, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, and The Bourbon House); Chairman of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau; board member of the New Orleans Chapter of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, French Quarter–Marigny Historic Area Management District, French Quarter Festivals, Inc., and Christian Brother’s Foundation; named one of 2008’s Role Models by the Young Leadership Council.

“I believe I have provided the Speaker with three outstanding individuals with solid academic credentials and proven community service,” Lorusso said. “I am certain District 94 will be well represented in Baton Rouge no matter which one of the three nominees the Speaker selects.”

The list of nominees has also been provided to the Chairman of the House & Governmental Affairs Committee, Rep. Rick Gallot. The committee will meet on February 4, 2009, to interview the nominees and make a recommendation to the Speaker. The Speaker of the House will then have the authority to select one of the three nominees to serve in Rep. Lorusso’s place while he is on active military duty.

Lorusso, a Lieutenant Colonel in the JAG Corps Reserves, will serve as the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate for the Army’s I Corps at Fort Lewis in Washington State in support of the Global War on Terrorism. He will report on February 9, 2009.

Hurricane Recovery News

by: Office of Public Information Staff
Earlier this month, the Louisiana House and Senate approved the Louisiana Recovery Authority's (LRA) plan to spend federal recovery dollars. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has already allocated $438 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to Louisiana for recovery after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, and the state expects to receive up to $800 million in total.

According to the approved plan, about one-fourth of the monies would be handled at the state level, and the remainder would be divided among affected parishes according to the levels of damage sustained using HUD data.

State-level projects for the funds would focus on providing for affordable rental housing, agriculture and fisheries recovery, and coastal restoration and flood protection.

Also this month, HUD rejected two proposed changes to the way the state allocates money through The Road Home program. The LRA had proposed that program participants be paid up to $7,500 for "individual mitigation measures"—home improvements such as storm shutters to protect rebuilt homes from future damage. HUD indicated that it would likely approve such a program as long as it still limited total awards to the current $150,000 cap.

The other rejected change would have used in all cases the highest appraised value of an applicant's home to calculate awards. The highest appraised value is already used in all appeal cases. HUD worried that this change could increase fraud.