Archive for LDR News Release

LDR Releases Statement Regarding Legislative Audit Report

BATON ROUGE – Today, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA) released a news release and summary of the results of a recent financial audit performed on the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR). The Auditor’s Office issued a list recommendations to LDR based on its findings.

“For the most part, we agree with the recommendations made by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office,” said Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield. “It is also important to note that none of the findings resulted in any loss of revenue for the state or agency and prior to the LLA’s findings, the Department had already proactively begun taking actions to address the matters.”

Below is a list of the topics noted in the Legislative Auditor’s report and LDR’s responses regarding each matter:

Internal Audit Function

In late 2013, the Department recognized the focus of the Internal Audit Division was disproportionately weighted toward compliance. In February 2014, LDR applied to the Louisiana Department of State Civil Service to split compliance and internal audit functions into two divisions. Approval was received from Civil Service and on March 6, 2014 the split into two divisions was implemented, followed by the subsequent hiring of two directors – a director of internal audit and a director of compliance. In May 2014, the new director of internal audit restructured the division and started working with the Institute of Internal Auditors to perform a quality assurance review of the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department’s internal audit activities and develop a reasonable internal audit plan for 2014. All of these actions took place prior to the LLA’s review, but we believe these actions will address the LLA’s concerns.

Preparation of the Annual Fiscal Report

This finding did not include any financial loss to the state or agency. LDR has implemented a corrective action plan to address these types of errors and has already begun additional review processes for monthly and quarterly reports. Additionally, LDR has introduced new procedures, allowing more time for review and analysis of the final report.

LaCarte Card Purchases

LDR believes that none of the matters identified represent any misappropriation. LDR recognizes the importance of controls over the LaCarte Card Program, and has implemented a corrective action plan, including training sessions for card holders and approvers to improve overall compliance. Additionally, LDR has instituted a monthly reporting process to identify non-compliant employees and will reduce, suspend and/or eliminate spending authority as needed. In August 2014, LDR hired an assistant director of the Controllers Division who oversees the LaCarte Card Program.

Refunds from Legal Settlements

The settlements involved complicated matters that included multiple tax periods, issues and types and occurred during the 2013 Amnesty period, which required the refunds to be calculated manually instead of through the use of the Department’s systems. Through working with the taxpayer, LDR became aware of the refunds immediately after the incident occurred, corrected the taxpayer’s account, and in January 2014 swiftly moved forward in implementing greater controls and procedures for these extremely rare types of settlements. Going forward, the Department has mandated review and approval by both the Audit and Litigation Divisions of settlement reconciliations before any refunds are issued.

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2014 Louisiana Tax Amnesty Program to deliver $142 million to the State

BATON ROUGE – The 2014 Tax Amnesty Program has processed more than 41,000 applications and settlements, which is projected to deliver more than $142 million for the Amnesty Fund, the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) announced Thursday.

“I was pleased with the response that we received from taxpayers fulfilling their obligations to the state during this year’s Amnesty period,” said Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield. “In the coming weeks, we will continue to process applications that were submitted by the deadline, and we expect some additional upside as the mail comes in.”

In total, the Department is projecting over $169 million in Amnesty collections, of which $142 million will go into the Amnesty Fund and, as provided under the Amnesty statute, $27 million will be retained by LDR to pay an estimated $4 million of expenses for administering this year’s Amnesty Program and provide $23 million of self-generated funds to replace penalties and fees waived. Of the $169 million, the Department has received $136 million in payments, is awaiting receipt of $10 million relating to settlement payments mailed prior to the deadline, and projects $23 million through installment payments to be made by May 1, 2015.

“The increase in amnesty funds is welcome news for the state budget as we work to create a plan to eliminate the shortfall created by declining oil prices,” said Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols. “Some of these payments may be used to reduce the impact of expenditure cuts on state agencies and taxpayers.”

Of the $169 million collected, approximately $112 million relate to resolutions of audit and litigation cases, which generally are contested matters involving businesses, and $57 million relate to delinquent tax collections which generally involve individuals and small businesses.

The 2014 Tax Amnesty Program gave eligible taxpayers the chance to bring their accounts up to date by paying all taxes due, with a waiver of all penalties and 50 percent of the interest.

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Louisiana Tax Amnesty 2014 ends today

BATON ROUGE – In the remaining available hours, the Louisiana Department of Revenue encourages individuals and businesses who have fallen behind on their taxes to take advantage of Louisiana Tax Amnesty 2014 before it expires.

“This amnesty period should be very attractive to those behind on their taxes.” Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said. “Not only are we waiving applicable penalties and 50 percent of accrued interest, we are also providing a payment plan option. We encourage individuals to apply before it’s too late.”

Also, for taxpayers involved in audit and litigation discussions who haven’t had a chance to resolve their disputed matters, they can take advantage of amnesty by paying the undisputed portion (“compromise amount”) of their assessments by today’s amnesty deadline. Within 30 days from the end of amnesty, the Secretary will determine if amnesty is granted for the compromise amount paid.

“Under the Secretary’s direction, the agency will consider if the compromise amount paid, reflects serious doubt as to: (1) the taxpayer’s liability for the judgment or assessment; (2) the collectability of the entire amount in dispute; or, (3) whether the administration and collection costs involved would exceed the amount of the dispute, judgment or assessment.” said, Shone Pierre, LDR General Counsel.

For delinquent taxpayers, the 2014 tax amnesty program also offers the opportunity for eligible taxpayers to pay their overdue taxes in installments over a six-month period. Installment agreements require a down payment of at least 20 percent of the amount owed, with final payment due no later than May 1, 2015.

The 30-day tax amnesty program ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014. Louisiana Tax Amnesty 2014 gives delinquent taxpayers and non-filers the opportunity to bring their accounts up to date. The Louisiana Department of Revenue will waive all applicable penalties, along with 50 percent of accrued interest, when taxpayers pay 100 percent of their tax balance and the remaining 50 percent of the interest.

Taxpayers can apply for amnesty online at www.ldrtaxamnesty.com. An application can be completed in approximately five minutes.

There are approximately 450,000 noncompliant tax accounts in Louisiana owing $1.8 billion, according to the Department of Revenue’s records.

Noncompliant taxpayers have a limited amount of time to take advantage of amnesty. For more information, visit www.ldrtaxamnesty.com or call 866-782-9241.

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Louisiana Tax Amnesty 2014 approaches final week

BATON ROUGE – Individuals and businesses who have fallen behind on their taxes have seven days remaining to take advantage of Louisiana Tax Amnesty 2014.

“With only one week left to apply, we are reminding noncompliant taxpayers to take advantage of tax amnesty,” Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said. “We encourage anyone who has fallen behind on their taxes to look into the amnesty program before the opportunity ends.”

The 30-day tax amnesty program, which ends at 11:59 p.m. on November 14, 2014, gives delinquent taxpayers and non-filers the opportunity to bring their accounts up to date. The Louisiana Department of Revenue will waive all applicable penalties, along with 50 percent of accrued interest, when taxpayers pay 100 percent of their tax balance.

Taxpayers can apply for amnesty online at www.ldrtaxamnesty.com. An application can be completed in approximately five minutes.

The 2014 tax amnesty program also offers the opportunity for eligible taxpayers to pay their overdue taxes in installments over a six-month period. Installment agreements require a down payment of at least 20 percent of the amount owed, with final payment due no later than May 1, 2015.

There are approximately 450,000 noncompliant tax accounts in Louisiana owing $1.8 billion, according to the Department of Revenue’s records.

Noncompliant taxpayers have a limited amount of time to take advantage of amnesty. According to Act 822 of the 2014 legislative session, after the conclusion of an amnesty period scheduled for 2015, there will be no new amnesty program administered by the Department of Revenue until at least 2025.

For more information, visit www.ldrtaxamnesty.com or call 866-782-9241.

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State offers filing extensions to businesses affected by severe weather

BATON ROUGE – Filing extensions are available on a case-by-case basis to Ouachita Parish businesses affected by severe weather on October 13, 2014, the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) announced Wednesday.

The extensions apply to the following tax filing and remittance dates for the month of October:

Tax Due Date Extension Date
Semi-monthly Withholding Remittance October 15, 2014 November 14, 2014
Alcoholic Beverage Tax Return October 15, 2014 November 14, 2014
Sales Tax Return October 20, 2014 November 14, 2014
911 Service Fee October 20, 2014 November 14, 2014
Statewide Hotel/Motel Sales Tax Return October 20, 2014 November 14, 2014
Hazardous Waste Tax Return October 20, 2014 November 14, 2014
Beer Tax Return October 20, 2014 November 14, 2014
Withholding Returns & Remittances October 31, 2014 November 14, 2014
 To apply for an extension, taxpayers in the affected area must submit to the Department of Revenue a written statement explaining why the return or remittance cannot be submitted on time by attaching it to the tax return or mailing it to:

Louisiana Department of Revenue

Post Office Box 201

Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0201

For more information, call the LDR Customer Service Center at 855-307-3893.

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Louisiana Tax Amnesty 2014 begins, gives delinquent taxpayers a chance to settle up

BATON ROUGE –A one-month amnesty program is underway for individuals and businesses who have fallen behind on their taxes.

Louisiana Tax Amnesty 2014 begins today and continues through 11:59 p.m. on November 14, 2014. During the amnesty program, delinquent taxpayers and non-filers can bring their accounts up to date by paying 100 percent of taxes owed, all applicable fees and 50 percent of applied interest. The Louisiana Department of Revenue will waive the remaining half of the interest along with 100 percent of any penalties.

“This is the perfect opportunity for noncompliant taxpayers to bring their accounts up to date,” Secretary of Revenue Tim Barfield said. “If you’ve fallen behind on your obligations, this is your chance to make it right.”

Taxpayers can apply for amnesty online at www.ldrtaxamnesty.com. An application can be completed in about five minutes.

New this year is the opportunity for eligible taxpayers to pay their overdue taxes in installments over a six-month period. Installment agreements require a down payment of at least 20 percent of the amount owed, with final payment due no later than May 1, 2015.

According to LDR records, there are about 450,000 noncompliant tax accounts in Louisiana owing $1.8 billion.

Noncompliant taxpayers have a limited amount of time to take advantage of amnesty. According to Act 822 of the 2014 legislative session, after the conclusion of an amnesty period scheduled for 2015, there will be no new amnesty program administered by the Department of Revenue until at least 2025.

For more information, visit www.ldrtaxamnesty.com or call 866-782-9241.

#LATaxAmnesty

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Tax preparer sentenced to prison for fraud

John Labee

John Labee

BATON ROUGE – A Slidell tax preparer who pled guilty to defrauding his clients and the State of Louisiana will spend three-and-a-half years in prison.

John Labee (Booking Photo) admitted to 6 felony counts of issuing worthless checks to the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR). East Baton Rouge Parish District Judge Bonnie Jackson sentenced him on Tuesday, September 23, to 46 months in prison at hard labor, five years of post-release supervised probation, and ordered him to pay restitution to LDR in the amount of $50,000. Failure to pay restitution will result in Labee serving an additional 14 months behind bars.

Labee was arrested in September 2011 on charges that included filing more than 500 fraudulent state individual income tax returns on behalf of clients of Innovative Professional Financial Services, a tax preparation business he operated in Slidell. The returns contained fabricated income tax withholding statements, overstated withholdings, and incorrectly reported tax deductions. In addition, Labee was charged with submitting worthless checks to the Department of Revenue for the payment of his clients’ tax debts.

A joint anti-fraud initiative between the Department of Revenue and the state Attorney General’s Office targets a wide range of felonies including but not limited to computer fraud, mail fraud, filing or maintaining false public records and issuing worthless checks.

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Tax preparer arrested for fraudulent tax credit claims

BATON ROUGE – A Tallulah woman faces more than 30 felony counts related to a $60,000 tax fraud scheme, the Louisiana Department of Revenue reported Monday.

Investigators say Chetoria Tyler (Booking Photo), of 216 Allen Street in Tallulah, submitted fraudulent income tax returns on behalf of clients of her tax preparation business, TC Enterprises. She is the 33rd person arrested under a joint anti-tax fraud initiative of the Department of Revenue and the state Office of the Attorney GeneraChetoria Tyler - 216 Allen Street, Tallulahl.

Tyler is charged with filing 2012 and 2013 Louisiana Individual Income Tax returns containing false claims for state child care tax credits. Ten of her clients told investigators they did not have any dependents and did not provide Tyler with information claiming they did.

The phony tax credit claims resulted in $61,447 in fraudulent income tax refunds issued to Tyler’s clients. False or inflated tax credit claims are a common technique among unscrupulous tax preparers who promise clients larger tax refunds than they would receive otherwise.

In addition to the false returns filed on behalf of clients, Tyler is charged with failing to report income she earned from her tax preparation work, and with inflating the withholding data on her own state individual income tax return. The Department of Revenue’s Tax Refund Intercept Program (TRIP) blocked $1,767 in fraudulent refunds that Tyler would have received due to the inflated withholding.

Tyler was arrested on Thursday, September 11 and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on 15 counts of computer fraud, 15 counts of filing or maintaining false public records and two counts of criminal penalty for evasion of tax.

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LDR News Release – Sec. Barfield names Payton as LDR Press Secretary

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield announced today that he has named Kizzy Payton as press secretary for the agency.

“We are pleased to welcome Kizzy to the Department. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position, having successfully worked in the field in various capacities for many years,” said Barfield. “We’re looking forward to her helping to expand our communications efforts and ensuring that we continue to share important information with citizens and stakeholders throughout the state.”

Payton most recently worked in the Communications and Marketing Department with the Recreation and Parks Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge. Prior to that position, she served as the executive director of communications for the Recovery School District and director of public information for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. She graduated from Southern University and A&M College with a master’s degree in mass communication.

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State officials notified of JPMorgan Chase data breach

BATON ROUGE – JPMorgan Chase notified Louisiana officials yesterday that personally identifiable information it holds under contracts with state agencies may have been breached. The company said it does not know if or to what extent information on Louisiana citizens may have been exposed.

Through contracts with the Louisiana Department of the Treasury and Louisiana Department of Revenue, JPMorgan Chase issues pre-paid debit cards for certain state agencies, including for state income tax refunds distributed by LDR, unemployment benefits paid by the Louisiana Workforce Commission and Child Support Enforcement, STEP Supportive Services and Child Care Assistance provider payments paid by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.

State agencies are working closely with JP Morgan Chase to keep Louisiana citizens apprised as more information about the breach becomes available.

In the interim, citizens, particularly those who have used pre-paid debit cards issued on behalf of these state agencies, are encouraged to monitor their credit statements and financial reports for any suspicious activities and to change the passwords on their respective accounts as a precaution.

For additional information, citizens can visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.consumer.ftc.gov for general information about identity theft and to learn more about reporting suspected fraudulent activities.

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