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11/30/2016
Treasury Uncovers More Than $46 Million For Insurance Beneficiaries

 

BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Department of the Treasury has uncovered nearly $46 million by checking life insurance companies' records for death benefits that should have been paid to Louisiana families but weren't, according to State Treasurer John Kennedy.

"We just found more than $200,000 for a widow in Lake Charles and sent that money to her," said Treasurer Kennedy. "We look at life insurance companies' records throughout the year. In seven years, we've uncovered more than $46 million."

The Louisiana Department of the Treasury works with Verus Financial LLC to compare outstanding policies to Social Security death records. The Louisiana Treasury has been conducting the audits since 2009 in order to find policies in which insurance companies were unable to locate beneficiaries or heirs.

"We put the money that we find into our Unclaimed Property program to make it easy for heirs to locate it," said Treasurer Kennedy. "We have an online database that can be searched at any time of the day."

Treasurer Kennedy encourages Louisiana residents to search for missing money online at www.LATreasury.com at any time or call the Treasury's toll-free hotline at 1-888-925-4127 Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

11/17/2016
State Bond Commission Approves $310 Million for Local Projects

 

BATON ROUGE, LA - The State Bond Commission approved $310 million for projects statewide and approved more than $12.5 million in interest savings at its November 17 meeting, according to State Treasurer John Kennedy.

"We approved funding for a number of important community projects," said Treasurer Kennedy. "Pineville will build a fire station. Calcasieu Parish will improve its waterworks system. Baker will rebuild its high school after the devastating floods."

Among the individual projects approved were:

  • Ascension Parish, $9.5 million in General Obligation School Refunding Bonds for the School Board, Parishwide School District: saving taxpayers $352,215.
  • Avoyelles Parish, $2.298 million in Water Revenue Bonds for Waterworks District, Ward 3: for acquiring and constructing improvements and replacements to the waterworks system, including appurtenant equipment and fixtures
  • Bossier Parish, $15 million in Public Improvement Sales Tax Revenue Bonds for the city of Bossier City: for (1) purchasing, constructing, acquiring, extending or improving any public works or capital improvements, including any necessary sites, equipment and furnishings and (2) funding a debt reserve fund or purchasing a debt service reserve fund insurance policy, if required.
  • Bossier Parish, $3.3 million in Sales Tax Bonds for the town of Haughton: for constructing and acquiring improvements, extensions and replacements to the sewerage collection and disposal system.
  • Calcasieu Parish, $2.2 million in Taxable Water Revenue Bonds for Waterworks District No. 8, Wards 3 and 8 (LDH Program): for constructing, acquiring, extending or improving a waterworks system, including such treatment facilities as be required, with all necessary equipment and installation.
  • Caldwell Parish, $2.55 million in Revenue and Refunding Bonds for the Law Enforcement District: saving taxpayers $21,751.
  • Desoto Parish, $2.31 million in Taxable Water Revenue Bonds for Police Jury, Waterworks District No. 1 (LDH Program): for constructing and acquiring improvements, renovations and replacements to the drinking water system, including equipment and fixtures.
  • East Baton Rouge Parish, $1 million in Hotel Occupancy Tax Bonds for the city of Zachary: for (1) infrastructure improvements to the Zachary Youth Park and (2) funding of other recreational opportunities.
  • East Baton Rouge Parish, $50,000,000 in Commercial Paper Revenue Notes and $50,000,000 in Permanent Pass-Through Notes for the Louisiana Housing Corporation's Mortgage Backed Securities Pass-Through Program: for financing loans for low-income first time home buyers receiving closing costs assistance and soft second HOME Program funds.
  • East Baton Rouge Parish, $12 million in Revenue Bonds for the Louisiana Community Development Authority's city of Baker School District Project: for (1) financing the demolition, construction, reconstruction, renovation and improvement of flood damaged schools within the district, including all furnishings, fixtures and facilities incidental or necessary; (2) funding capitalized interest, if necessary and (3) funding a debt service reserve fund, if necessary.
  • Jefferson Davis Parish, $250,000 in Limited Tax Certificates of Indebtedness for the town of Welsh: for purchasing a garbage truck.
  • Lafayette Parish, $131 million in Revenue Refunding Bonds for the Louisiana Community Development Authority's Ragin' Cajun Facilities, Inc. Student Housing and Parking Project: saving $9.9 million.
  • Lafayette Parish, $22 million in Revenue Refunding Bonds for the Louisiana Community Development Authority's Ragin' Cajun Facilities, Inc. Student Union/University Facilities Project: saving $1.4 million.
  • LaSalle Parish, $410,000 in Waterworks Certificates of Indebtedness for the town of Urania: for (1) approximately $100,000 in improvements to waterworks system and (2) approximately $299,131 paying off USDA Waterworks Revenue Loan R-1 and R-2.
  • Lincoln Parish, $155,000 in Limited Tax Revenue Bonds for the city of Grambling: for purchasing a garbage collection vehicle.
  • Ouachita Parish, $9.4 million in Water Revenue Bonds for the town of Sterlington: for acquisition, construction and equipping of a new water drinking treatment and distribution system.
  • Rapides Parish, $2.75 million in Limited Tax Certificates of Indebtedness for the Police Jury, Fire Protection District No. 3: for constructing, improving, maintaining or operating a fire station at 6129 Shreveport Highway in Pineville.
  • Rapides Parish, $3.9 million in Revenue Bonds for England Economic and Industrial Development District (Rental Facility Project): for (1) constructing a rental car maintenance facility and (2) reimbursing the district for costs incurred for a public roadway.
  • Rapides Parish, $9 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds for the Louisiana Housing Corporation's Harmony Garden Estates Project: for acquisition, construction, rehabilitation and equipping of a 175 unit multifamily housing facility in Alexandria.
  • Rapides Parish, $12 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bonds for the Louisiana Housing Corporation's Royal Cambridge Homes Project: for acquisition, construction, rehabilitation and equipping of a 176 unit multifamily housing facility in Alexandria.
  • St. Helena Parish, $500,000 in Limited Tax Bonds for Hospital Service District No. 1: for (1) constructing and improving medical facilities, (2) purchasing furniture, fixtures, and equipment and (3) maintaining and operating medical facilities.
  • St. Mary Parish, $4.8 million in General Obligation Refunding Bonds for Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 2: saving taxpayers $264,510.
  • Tangipahoa Parish, $6.4 million in Water Revenue Refunding Bonds for the Water District: saving taxpayers $537,003.
  • Union Parish, $3.6 million in Limited Tax Revenue Bonds for the School Board: for acquiring, constructing, improving, equipping and furnishing school buildings and other school related facilities, including school buses and vehicles.
  • Washington Parish, $3.9 million in Sewer Revenue Bonds for the town of Franklinton: for acquiring and constructing improvements and replacements to the sewerage system, including appurtenant equipment and fixtures.

The Louisiana State Bond Commission meets monthly to review and approve applications from parishes, municipalities, special taxing districts, and other political subdivisions of the State requesting authority to incur debt. For more information, visit www.LATreasury.com.

11/4/2016
State Revenue Collections Increase

BATON ROUGE, La. - The October 2016 Net Receipts Report shows that total state revenue thus far for 2016-2017 was $2.858 billion, a 31% increase compared to that time last year. September's revenue was up 25% compared to that time last year.

A number of tax collections showed significant improvement, including general sales tax, individual income tax, gasoline and special fuels tax and miscellaneous taxes. General sales tax collections increased by nearly 40% compared to this time last year. Individual income tax collections climbed nearly 10%.

The report includes receipts for sales tax, individual income tax, general severance tax, corporation and franchise tax, gasoline and special fuels tax and miscellaneous taxes cash receipts. The report does not include gambling revenues, fees, self-generated revenue and statutory dedications.

General sales tax cash receipts for FY 2016-2017 to-date are $1.251 billion, for an increase of $341 million or 37% compared to last year. General sales tax cash receipts this time last year were $910 million, which was $14 million more than the prior year.

Individual income tax cash receipts for FY 2016-2017 to-date are $1.080 billion, for an increase of $92 million or 9% compared to last year. Individual income tax cash receipts this time last year were $988 million, which was $42 million less than the prior year.

General severance tax cash receipts for FY 2016-2017 to-date are $133 million, for a decrease of $48 million or 27% compared to last year. General severance tax cash receipts this time last year were $181 million, which was $127 million less than the prior year.

Corporation and franchise tax cash receipts for FY 2016-2017 to-date are $43 million, for an increase of $254 million or -120% compared to last year. Corporation and franchise tax cash receipts this time last year were a negative $-211 million, which was $228 million less than the prior year.

Gasoline and special fuels tax cash receipts for FY 2016-2017 to-date are $215 million, for an increase of $6 million or 3% compared to last year. Gasoline and special fuels tax cash receipts this time last year were $209 million, which was $6 million more than the prior year.

Miscellaneous taxes cash receipts for FY 2016-2017 to-date are $135 million, for an increase of $50 million or 59% compared to last year. Miscellaneous taxes cash receipts this time last year were $85 million, which was $10 million more than the prior year.

 

To view the report in its entirety, visit www.latreasury.com and click "Net Receipts Statement for the Month of October 2016."

 Opinion Columns

11/18/2016
Do You Have Unclaimed Property? It's Very Likely

In her 96 years, Metairie native "Marjorie Summers" (not her real name) has lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Cars had a running board and a rumble seat back when Marjorie was born. Now we're test driving cars that literally drive themselves.

A lot has changed in nearly a century. It's not surprising that Marjorie would lose track of a few things along the years. In fact, I just returned more than $2 million in Unclaimed Property to her.

Marjorie's experience is both common and uncommon - and let me explain what I mean by that.

Roughly one in six individuals has Unclaimed Property in the Louisiana Treasury. That means it's very likely that you or your mom, aunt, cousin, sister, brother or childhood best friend has lost money that has been turned over to the state. It's probably just not $2 million.

The average refund is $900. That's not enough to buy a place in Hawaii, but it will certainly buy lots of groceries.

Every day, we get in payroll checks, tax refunds, life insurance proceeds, utility deposits and much more. We put it in the Treasury, and we hold onto it until it's claimed.

Insurance salesman used to go door to door peddling their policies. Your grandmother might have purchased one and forgotten to tell you. The proceeds could be in the Treasury.

A computer hiccup could corrupt your address on a mailing label. If the postman can't deliver a check to you, it comes to us.

We received unredeemed savings bonds last year totaling nearly $500,000. Some of them date to the 1940s and 1950s. The folks who bought them might not be alive still, but their heirs are.

Other times, money finds its way to us because of forgetfulness. That's what happened with Marjorie.

The Great Depression of the 1930s impressed upon Marjorie the importance of saving money. Her father lost his job, causing his family to struggle financially. All these years later, Marjorie remembers her mother fretting and worrying about the tough economic times.

Marjorie was a good steward of her finances; she just struggled with the bookkeeping as she aged. She started dumping her mail, still unopened, into boxes. When you don't open your mail, you tend to accumulate Unclaimed Property.

Fortunately, concerned friends enlisted the help of a personal trustee who sorted through Marjorie's 18 boxes of unopened mail and searched the Unclaimed Property database. The trustee found more than $500,000 in cash and $1.6 million in stock assets.

Marjorie's Unclaimed Property was one of the largest in our department's history. I was happy to return it to her.

It's absolutely free to search for Unclaimed Property. It's even free to claim it. Visit www.LATreasury.com to find our search engine. You can also give us a call at 1-888-925-4127. You never know what you might discover.

10/6/2016
Program Plants The Seeds For Economic Success In Louisiana

Quality First Marine began like most businesses do. Capt. Darryl and Christina Couvillion started small, worked hard and hoped for success. A program called Economic Gardening helped them achieve their goals.

The concept for the Economic Gardening program isn't complicated. Economic Gardening provides free consulting advice to businesses that show potential for expansion. The idea is to grow jobs and revenue, which helps not just the state but also communities.

Economic Gardening focuses on companies specializing in manufacturing, insurance services and other target industries. In other words, it's not designed to put a Happy Hamburger on every corner.

As State Treasurer, I'm in charge of paying the state's bills. I need revenue to do that. I'm not a proponent of tax increases, especially when the oil industry is in a slump and people have lost their homes to floodwaters. I am a fan of letting free enterprise flourish. I want people to be able to seize the American dream and create jobs.

Delivered in conjunction with the Edward Lowe Foundation, Economic Gardening is something that our Louisiana Department of Economic Development does well. It's also a program that doesn't receive a lot of fanfare. I can't claim any ownership of the program. I'm just impressed by its work, and I want more businesses to know about it.

Louisiana didn't create Economic Gardening. The program started in Littleton, Colo., when a missile manufacturer called Martin Marietta slashed jobs in 1987. Economic Gardening didn't offer expensive incentive packages to bring in new companies in order to replace the jobs lost. Instead the program worked with existing companies and helped them expand. Over the span of 20 years, the number of jobs in Littleton more than doubled. Sales tax revenue tripled.

Sometimes, all businesses need is a little know-how.

Take Quality First Marine as an example. The business wasn't popping up high enough in internet searches. If I'm searching for a business on Google, I rarely look at the businesses on the 12th page of my web search. You probably don't either.

Economic Gardening worked with the Couvillions in 2012 to set up Quality First Marine's web page so it popped up higher in an internet search. Sometimes, it's just simple things that help a company.

 

Between 2012 and 2015, revenue soared by $7.9 million at Quality First Marine. The company hopes to participate in another round of Economic Gardening.

Economic Gardening helps businesses recognize market trends, map areas for targeted marketing, optimize search engine results and learn about social media. Sometimes Economic Gardening is pulling together a list of potential customers. Other times it's correcting mistakes that are burying a company in a Google search.

Visit http://www.opportunitylouisiana.com/small-business/special-programs-for-small-business/economic-gardening-initiative to learn more about this terrific program.

The sky should be the limit for our Louisiana businesses. Economic Gardening can help you punch through the ceiling and reach the sky.

9/16/2016
Flood Victims Need To Know About This Income Tax Deduction

By now, you know the sobering statistics of the August flooding. You might even factor into those statistics because you lack flood insurance.

Not even half of the homes in areas at a high risk for flooding had flood insurance. In St. Helena Parish, not even one percent of homes and businesses had flood insurance.

FEMA can grant up to $33,000 in assistance, but you're going to get far less than that. The average FEMA assistance for Superstorm Sandy was less than $8,000.

So here's your predicament: You have cabinets to replace. You have sheetrock to replace. You have floors to replace. You have couches, beds and tables to replace. Even the washer and dryer couldn't be saved. You don't have flood insurance. You only have a little bit of FEMA assistance.

As your State Treasurer, I want to impart two things to you.

First, we will rebuild. Our neighborhoods will return. Our businesses will reopen.

Second, you can deduct your unreimbursed casualty losses on your tax return or amended tax return.

This is a complicated deduction (you can locate the information sheet on it at https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc515.html). However, it's worth considering, especially if you didn't have flood insurance. And many, many people didn't have flood insurance.

The deduction for casualty losses in federally declared disaster areas is designed to help people who have been impacted by a sudden, unexpected or unusual event. It applies to uninsured or unreimbursed losses on homes, household items and vehicles. So keep those photographs of everything the floodwaters touched. They'll come in handy when it's time to do your taxes.

You can deduct a casualty loss in the year in which it occurred or in the year immediately preceding the tax year in which the disaster occurred. In other words, you can claim it on this year's tax return or you can amend last year's return in order to get a quicker refund. You have to claim it as an itemized deduction.

It's important to remember that a casualty loss isn't for normal wear and tear. The chair that floated from the den into the living room probably applies if you didn't have flood insurance for the contents of your home. The chair that your kids redecorated with splashes of spaghetti sauce and grape juice doesn't apply.

This deduction isn't just for homeowners. Business owners and rental property owners also can take it.

To see if you qualify, take the time to look at the Internal Revenue Service's workbook. It's Publication 547. The workbook includes examples to help you. Visit https://www.irs.gov/publications/p547.

Tax relief is one more avenue of assistance available to you. It might be an avenue that you didn't even know existed.

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