Monday, March 2, 2009

Schools may have to pay sales taxes on cafeteria meals

When the embattled Louisiana School Boards Association holds its annual convention this week, it will have to grapple with news that school lunch programs should have been collecting sales taxes since the mid-1980s.

As Advocate reporter David J. Mitchell writes here, state revenue officials say that colleges, as well as public, private and religious schools, should have been collecting the four percent state sales tax on meals sold in school cafeterias. Local sales taxes are exempt, and taxes need not be paid for lunches consumed by students who get meals under the federal free lunch program.

Officials said there was an exemption from state sales taxes until the 1980s. Starting in July, all but one percent of the tax will again be exempt.

The state has the authority to demand payment for back sales taxes owed by the schools. Expect bills to be introduced in the coming legislative session to forgive schools for nonpayment.

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