Jeremy Alford

Coastal restoration can be so taxing

by Jeremy Alford

As painful as it might be for some, filing your state income taxes could soon be done with a sense of purpose – that is, if the Legislature agrees to include a special check-off box for coastal restoration donations. You already have the option, when filling out your individual income tax form, to donate all or a portion of your return to military families, scholarship funds, animal-related programs, cancer trusts, housing initiatives and community-based health care funds.

But Senate Bill 697 would create another check-off box for contributions to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund, which is used to bankroll a variety of projects, ranging from freshwater diversions to barrier island maintenance. While it’s difficult to estimate how much support taxpayers might put into the fund, it would be required by law to bring in at least $10,000 annually over a two-year period to remain on tax forms. Otherwise, it would be taken off.

As for costs to the Louisiana Department of Revenue, it’s allowed by the legislation to take as much as 20 percent of all donations to put toward data processing, accounting and other functions. If eventually ratified by the governor, the law would take effect on Jan. 1, 2009 – just in time for next year’s tax season.