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Frequently Asked Questions

Sales, Use, and Occupational License Tax

Sewer and Garbage User Fees

Sales, Use, and Occupational License Tax

To what transactions is sales tax applied?

The sales and use tax is levied on the following transactions:

  • The sale of tangible personal property at retail in this parish.
     

  • The use, consumption, distribution, or storage for use or consumption in this parish of any tangible personal property.
     

  • The lease or rental of tangible personal property within this parish.
     

  • The sale of services as defined in the ordinance, which includes the furnishing of rooms by hotels, the sale of admission to places of amusement and to athletic and recreational events, and the furnishing of privileges of access to amusement, entertainment, athletic or recreational facilities; the furnishing of storage or parking privileges by parking lots; the furnishing of printing and over-printing; the furnishing of laundry, cleaning, pressing, and dyeing services; the furnishing of cold storage space and the preparation of property for such storage; and the furnishing of repairs to tangible personal property.

What are the sales tax rates for the City of Baton Rouge, Parish of East Baton Rouge, and the City of Zachary?

Rates Effective July 11, 2005

  LOCAL
RATE
STATE
RATE
TOTAL
Regular 5.00% 4.00% 9.00%
Food 3.00% 0.00% 3.00%
Drugs 3.00% 0.00% 3.00%

What are the sales tax rates for the City of Baker?

Rates Effective July 1, 2003

  LOCAL
RATE
STATE
RATE
TOTAL
Regular 5.50% 4.00% 9.50%
Food 4.50% 0.00% 4.50%
Drugs 4.50% 0.00% 4.50%

What are the sales tax rates for the City of Central?

Rates Effective July 1, 2007

  LOCAL
RATE
STATE
RATE
TOTAL
Regular 5.50% 4.00% 9.00%
Food 4.00% 0.00% 4.00%
Drugs 4.00% 0.00% 4.00%

What is the history of sales tax rates for all taxing jurisdictions in East Baton Rouge Parish?

Rates Effective July 1, 2000

  LOCAL
RATE
STATE
RATE
TOTAL
Regular 5.00% 4.00% 9.00%
Food 3.00% 3.00% 6.00%
Drugs 3.00% 0.00% 3.00%

Rates Effective July 1, 1999

  LOCAL
RATE
STATE
RATE
TOTAL
Regular 4.94% 4.00% 8.94%
Food 3.00% 3.00% 6.00%
Drugs 3.00% 0.00% 3.00%

Rates Effective April 1, 1999

  LOCAL
RATE
STATE
RATE
TOTAL
Regular 4.41% 4.00% 8.94%
Food 3.00% 3.00% 6.00%
Drugs 3.00% 0.00% 3.00%

Rates Effective July 1, 1990

  LOCAL
RATE
STATE
RATE
TOTAL
Regular 4.00% 4.00% 8.00%
Food 3.00% 3.00% 6.00%
Drugs 3.00% 0.00% 3.00%

Note: Call the Louisiana Department of Revenue External web link not maintained by City of Baton Rouge at (225) 219-7356 concerning the state tax rate.

Are there any exemptions from the sales tax?

The Sales and Use Tax Ordinance and state law exempts or excludes certain transactions from sales and use tax.  Specific information regarding exemptions and exclusions can be obtained from the Revenue Division.  Some of the major exemptions and exclusions are listed below:

  • Sales of gasoline, natural gas, steam, and water when delivered to consumers via mains, pipes or conduits, electric power, newspapers, fertilizers, and containers used for farm products when sold directly to the farmer.
     

  • Isolated or occasional sales of tangible personal property by someone not engaged in the business of selling that type of property.  Casual or isolated sales shall not apply to the sale of vehicles.
     

  • Sales of human tissue transplants including all human organs, bone, skin, cornea, blood, or blood products transplanted from one person into another recipient person.
     

  • Sales of electricity for chlor-alkali manufacturing processes.
     

  • Sales to bona fide fire protection districts.
     

  • Purchases of motor vehicles for lease and autos for rental.
     

  • Purchases made with Food Stamps and WIC Vouchers.
     

  • Purchases by state and local governments.

What is the mailing address for sales and use tax returns?

Sales Tax Section
Department of Finance - Revenue Division
City of Baton Rouge
P. O. Box 2590
Baton Rouge, LA  70821-2590

Which columns should be used in completing the Sales and Use Tax Report form?

Column ‘A’ - Used to report data that relates to the City of Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish School District.

Column ‘B’ - Used to report data that relates to the unincorporated areas of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish School District.

Column ‘C’ - Used to report data that relates to the unincorporated areas of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Zachary School District.

Column 'D' - Used to report data that relates to the City of Baker, Baker School District.

Column 'E' - Used to report data that relates to the City of Baker, East Baton Rouge Parish School District.

Column 'F' - Used to report data that relates to the City of Zachary, Zachary School District.

Column 'G' - Used to report data that relates to the City of Central, Central Community School Board.

Column 'H' - Used to report data that relates to the unincorporated areas of the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Central Community School Board.

What do I do if I owe taxes, but am unable to pay by the due date?

Submit your return by the due date.  Any amount paid with your return will reduce the amount of interest and late payment penalty charges.  The Revenue Division will bill you for the remainder of tax, interest, and penalties that are owed.

What do I do to set up arrangements to pay an outstanding tax liability?

Any local businesses that would like to make arrangements to clear outstanding tax liabilities should contact the Revenue Division - Field Enforcement Section at (225) 389-3088, extension 703.  For those businesses that are located outside of East Baton Rouge Parish or out-of-state, please contact the Revenue Division, Taxpayer Assistance Section, at (225) 389-3084.

How do I file an amended return?

If you have a copy of the original return which was submitted to the Revenue Division, make the corrections on that copy and resubmit it to the Department of Finance-Revenue Division, P.O. Box 2590, Baton Rouge, LA  70821.  If the amended return requires additional payment, please remit payment with the amended form.  If the amended return results in a refund, please refer to the Refund Application Instructions.

How can I become a "Quarterly" filer?

Dealers whose sales tax liabilities average less than $50 per month after filing 12 returns may apply to file on a quarterly basis.  If you average more than $50 per month, you will be required to file on a "monthly" basis.

How do I request a refund of taxes paid?

Please refer to the Refund Application Instructions for questions concerning refund requests.

How are the sales taxes distributed?

Sales taxes are distributed as follows for transactions occurring within the:

CITY LIMITS OF BATON ROUGE
(Includes East Baton Rouge Parish School District)

 

Effective
July 1, 2000

Effective
July 1, 1999
Effective
April 1, 1999
Effective
July 1, 1990
City of Baton Rouge 2.00% 2.00% 2.00% 2.00%
Parish School Board 2.00% 1.94% 1.41% 1.00%
Parish Sewer Fund 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0.50%
Parish Street Improvement Fund 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0.50%
         
Total 5.00% 4.94% 4.41% 4.00%
         

UNINCORPORATED LIMITS OF THE PARISH
(Includes East Baton Rouge Parish School District)

 

Effective
July 1, 2000

Effective
July 1, 1999
Effective
April 1, 1999
Effective
July 1, 1990
East Baton Rouge Parish 2.00% 2.00% 2.00% 2.00%
Parish School Board 2.00% 1.94% 1.41% 1.00%
Parish Sewer Fund 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0.50%
Parish Street Improvement Fund 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0.50%
         
Total 5.00% 4.94% 4.41% 4.00%
         

UNINCORPORATED LIMITS OF THE PARISH
(Includes Zachary Community School District)

 

Effective
July 1, 2003

East Baton Rouge Parish 2.00%
Zachary Community School District 2.00%
Parish Sewer Fund 0.50%
Parish Street Improvement Fund 0.50%
   
Total 5.00%
   

UNINCORPORATED LIMITS OF THE PARISH
(Includes Central Community School Board)

 

Effective
July 1, 2009

East Baton Rouge Parish 2.00%
Central Community School Board 2.50%
Parish Sewer Fund 0.50%
Parish Street Improvement Fund 0.50%
   
Total 5.50%
   

CITY LIMITS OF BAKER
(Includes City of Baker School District)

 

Effective
July 1, 2003

City of Baker 2.50%
City of Baker School District 2.00%
Parish Sewer Fund 0.50%
Parish Street Improvement Fund 0.50%
   
Total 5.50%
   

CITY LIMITS OF BAKER
(Includes East Baton Rouge Parish School District)

 

Effective
October 1, 2001

Effective
July 1, 2000

Effective
July 1, 1999
Effective
April 1, 1999
Effective
July 1, 1990
City of Baker 2.50% 2.00% 2.00% 2.00% 2.00%
Parish School Board 2.00% 2.00% 1.94% 1.41% 1.00%
Parish Sewer Fund 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0.50%
Parish Street Improvement Fund 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0.50%
           
Total 5.50% 5.00% 4.94% 4.41% 4.00%
           

CITY LIMITS OF ZACHARY
(Includes East Baton Rouge Parish School Board)

 

Effective
July 1, 2000

Effective
July 1, 1999
Effective
April 1, 1999
Effective
July 1, 1990
City of Zachary 2.00% 2.00% 2.00% 2.00%
Parish School Board 2.00% 1.94% 1.41% 1.00%
Parish Sewer Fund 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0.50%
Parish Street Improvement Fund 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0.50%
         
Total 5.00% 4.94% 4.41% 4.00%
         

CITY LIMITS OF ZACHARY
(Includes Zachary Community School District)

 

Effective
July 1, 2003

City of Zachary 2.00%
Zachary Community School District 2.00%
Parish Sewer Fund 0.50%
Parish Street Improvement Fund 0.50%
   
Total 5.00%
   

CITY LIMITS OF CENTRAL
(Includes Central Community School Board)

 

Effective
July 11, 2005

City of Central 2.00%
East Baton Rouge Parish School District 2.00%
Parish Sewer Fund 0.50%
Parish Street Improvement Fund 0.50%
   
Total 5.00%
   

What are local sales taxes used for?

  • The City of Baton Rouge levies a 2% sales and use tax, which is used for general municipal purposes and for servicing bonded indebtedness.

  • Unincorporated areas of the Parish levy a 2% sales and use tax, which is used for general parochial purposes and for servicing bonded indebtedness.

  • The City of Baker levies a 2-1/2% sales and use tax (effective 10/1/01)for use by that municipality.

  • The City of Zachary levies a 2% sales and use tax for use by that municipality.
     
  • The City of Central levies a 2% sales and use tax for use by that municipality (effective July 11, 2005)

  • The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board levies a 2% sales tax for teacher salaries and benefits and school system general operations.

  • The City-Parish levies a 1/2% parish-wide sales and use tax for sewer improvement purposes, including the cost of operating/maintaining the system, rehabilitation, and new construction.
     

  • The City-Parish levies a 1/2% parish-wide sales and use tax for street improvement purposes, including street and road resurfacing and new construction.

  •  
     
  • The City of Baker School District levies a 2% sales tax for school system general operations (effective July 1, 2003).
     

  • The Zachary Community School District levies a 2% sales tax for school system general operations (effective July 1, 2003).
     

  • The City of Central levies a 2% sales tax for general municipal purposes (effective July 11, 2005).
     

  • The Central Community School Board levies a 2.5% sales and use tax for school system general operations (effective July 1, 2009).

How do I obtain an Occupational License?

You may obtain an Occupational License by completing the Business Registration Application form This document is in PDF format.  Download the free viewer from www.adobe.com and submitting it along with a check for the Occupational License Tax, made payable to the City and Parish Treasurer for one of the options listed below:

  • $50 for businesses that open January 1 - June 30
  • $25 for businesses that open July 1 - December 31

Once your application is processed by the Revenue Division Taxpayer Assistance Section, an Occupational License Certificate will be mailed to you to be posted in your place of business.  For additional information on obtaining an Occupational License, please contact the Revenue Division at (225) 389-3084.

When is the Occupational License Tax Due?

For a new business, the Occupational License Tax is due prior to the date the business opens. Renewal of an Occupational License is due on January 1st and becomes delinquent on March 1st.  The renewal of your Occupational License is based upon your business activity for the previous year.  Please refer to the Occupational License Tax Ordinance for further information.

What is the sales tax and occupational license tax penalty and interest rate?

The delinquent penalty is 5% for each month or fraction thereof and increases by 5% on the 1st day of each month to a maximum of 25%. The interest is 15% per annum calculated on a daily basis until paid.

How do I request a waiver of penalty?

A letter explaining the reasons a penalty should be waived should be sent to the Revenue Manager at the following address: Revenue Division, P.O. Box 2590, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.

What are the guidelines the department uses to decide whether or not to waive penalties?

The following are the primary factors considered when acting on a request for waiver:

  • Level of Cooperation with Auditors.  If a taxpayer has imposed needless time delays in providing the necessary records to conduct an audit, uses abusive language, subjects auditors to unnecessarily uncomfortable working conditions, or has provided incomplete records, he is less likely to receive favorable consideration.
     

  • Previous Audits.  A taxpayer is more likely to receive a penalty waiver on an initial audit than on subsequent audits.  Additionally, if the tax issues in question have previously been the subject of an audit with the taxpayer requesting a waiver, the taxpayer is less likely to receive favorable consideration.
     

  • Level of Taxpayer Effort.  If a taxpayer is attempting to collect or accrue taxes properly and the errors made do not appear to be intentional, then the taxpayer is more likely to receive favorable consideration.
     

  • Taxpayer Payment History.  If a taxpayer has been paying taxes timely in prior periods, his chances of receiving favorable consideration are enhanced.
     

  • Taxpayer Registration.  A taxpayer that has not registered for sales and use taxes with Revenue is less likely to receive favorable consideration than one who has been properly registered.
     

  • Taxes Collected but Not Remitted.  If a taxpayer has collected, but not remitted taxes, he is not in a good position for obtaining favorable consideration.
     

  • Complexity of Tax Issue.  If the tax issue in question is a complex one where the applicability of tax to the transaction is not clear, the taxpayer is in a better position to obtain favorable consideration.
     

  • Special or Unusual Conditions Relative to Audit Findings.  If the tax in question resulted from apparent inadvertent coding errors, the taxpayer is in a better position for obtaining favorable consideration than under other circumstances.
     

  • Prompt Payment.  If a taxpayer pays the tax and interest in a timely manner after being billed following their audit, he is in a better position to obtain favorable consideration.
     

  • Correction Action.  Willingness of a taxpayer to take corrective action to prevent a recurrence of tax underpayment is an important consideration.  If a taxpayer is willing to change his method of accounting and procedures in order to reduce the likelihood of the same error occurring again, he is more likely to obtain favorable consideration.

Requests for waivers of penalties may be granted or denied in whole or part.  In all cases, the goal of the Finance Department is to maintain a consistent and effective policy while treating all taxpayers fairly.  The factors listed above are also utilized, to the extent applicable, in making decisions relative to penalty waivers in non-audit situations.

How is a taxpayer selected for audit?

The taxpayer is selected for an audit based on one or more of the following reasons:

  • Not charging tax or incorrectly charging tax
  • Not accruing tax
  • Improper use of exemption certificate
  • Collecting and not remitting tax
  • Industry non-compliance problem
  • Volume of business in the parish
  • Tips from individuals
  • Not registered for sales tax and/or occupational license tax

What is Use Tax?

Use tax applies to tangible personal property purchased for use, consumption, distribution or storage for use in this parish.  Use tax is due only when sufficient local sales tax has not been paid on the purchase.  Additional details can be found under Use Tax Transactions.


Sewer and Garbage User Fees

How is my Sewer User Fee calculated?

The Sewer User Fee is recalculated in July of each year and is based on the customer’s average water consumption during the months of October, November, and December of the prior year and February, March, and April of the current year. Each July, residents are mailed notices explaining how the fee is computed. Approximately 93% of our customers are billed by Baton Rouge Water Company. For these customers, the Sewer User Fee is calculated by computing the average water consumption in 100 cubic feet (CCF). An example of the sewer user fee for customers billed by Baton Rouge Water Company is as follows :

 

Water Consumption Billed

October 2013

10.0 CCF

November 2013

12.5 CCF

December 2013 10.5 CCF
February 2014 12.0 CCF
March 2014   9.5 CCF
April 2014 14.5 CCF
     TOTAL 69.0 CCF
Average (69/6 months) 11.5 CCF

The minimum charge for the first 400 cubic feet of average water consumption is $18.62. Also, there is a charge of $3.37 for each additional 100 cubic feet of average water consumption. Based on the average consumption of 11.5 CCF, the Sewer User Fee is $43.90 (based on 2014 rates).

SEWER USER FEE $43.90  =  ((11.5 CCF-4.0 CCF) x $3.37) + $18.62

For new residential customers, the Sewer User Fee is based on the average water consumption of 11.5 CCF.  Adjustments are made after three full months of water consumption is available. A credit is issued to customers with water consumption below the average and the monthly Sewer User Fee is adjusted.

For existing residential customers, adjustments to the Sewer User Fee can be made if the average water consumption for the most recent six months is lower than the consumption being billed. Customers may call the Service Fee Business Office at 389-5378 to request a review of their account.

What is the average cost a resident can expect to pay for their monthly sewer bill?

The average monthly sewer user fee is $43.90 based on 11.5 CCF or 8,600 gallons.

Is it mandatory for residential customers to tie-in to the sewer system?

Section 14.3 of the Unified Development Code requires that a property owner tie-in to the sewer system if they are within 500 feet of a sewer collection line.

My sewer bill increased.  Why?

The Sewer User Fee increases by 4% each January per Ordinance No. 12647This document is in PDF format.  Download the free viewer from www.adobe.com.  Also, in July of each year, your Sewer User Fee is recalculated based on your average water consumption during the months of October, November, and December of the prior year and February, March, and April of the current year.  If you feel that your bill is not correct, you may contact the Service Fee Business Office at 389-5378 to request a review of your account.

My sewer bill is higher than my water bill.  Why?

This is usually true. Since 1999, when the rates started increasing, more and more people find that the sewer portion of their bill is higher than their water portion. This is now the case with most customers. The sewer portion of your bill can be reduced when your average water consumption decreases.

The amount of water which I am currently using is much less than the amount billed for the sewer user fee.  How is this possible?

The amount billed for the Sewer User Fee is not based on the current water consumption stated on your monthly bill. Instead, it is based on the average consumption used during the winter months, which are the lowest water consumption months for most customers.  The Sewer User Fee is recalculated in July of each year and is based on the customer's average water consumption during the months of October, November, and December of the prior year and February, March, and April of the current year.

My water has been disconnected.  Why wasn't I notified before it was disconnected?  

You were notified when you received the final notice which stated that your bill had not been paid in 30 days. The final notice included charges for two months and stated that services would be disconnected if payment was not made by the due date. When no payment was received for this second bill, your utilities were disconnected.

How do I get my water reconnected?

The total balance due, plus the service charge for reconnection must be paid for water service to be restored.  The total balance due includes charges for the current month and arrears.  Payments must be made in person at the following locations:

Customers billed by Baton Rouge Water Company:

Service Fee Business Office
1100 Laurel Street, Suite 234

Baton Rouge Water Company
8755 Goodwood Boulevard

Customers billed by the City of Zachary:

City of Zachary
4650 Main Street
Zachary, LA

Customers billed by the City of Baker:

City of Baker
3325 Groom Road
Baker, LA

I paid my bill, but my water was still disconnected.  Why?

The full amount of the arrears must be received by the due date to avoid being disconnected.

I received a sewer user fee bill, but I own a private well.  Why am I being billed?

If you are connected to the sewer system, you will be billed.

If you are not connected to the sewer system, you should verify that the bill is for garbage and not sewer.  The 2014 monthly garbage fee is $19.00. All residents in the parish are billed this fee except residents living in the corporate limits of Baker and Zachary.

I am being billed sewer and garbage user fees on a home that is vacant.  Why?

You will be billed each month as long as the utilities are connected.  If there has been zero water consumption during any month, credit can be given on your account for the solid waste fee charged.  Credits can also be given for the sewer fee charged if the average consumption during the most recent three-month period is less than the consumption billed.  These adjustments are done upon the request of the customer and will only be given every three months. 

I have a swimming pool (sprinkler system, etc.) and most of my water does not go into the sewer system.  Why do I have to pay such high sewer user fee bills?

We use only the months of October, November, December (of preceding year) and February, March, and April (of current year) to calculate the customer's average. Since these types of systems are generally not utilized during winter months, the use of them should not affect your bill.

I received a statement back-billing me for sewer and solid waste (garbage) user fees that I was never billed for.  Why do I have to pay for the error?

The Sewer User and Solid Waste User Fee Regulations provide that when it is determined that a contributor has not been billed for the sewer user fee or a resident has not been billed for the solid waste user fee (garbage), the City-Parish shall backbill the contributor or resident for such use.  Adjustments made under this provision shall be limited to 12 months.

Revised 1/7/13