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Latest Press Release
Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Marks Quarter Century of Service
Unique program has provided tax free shopping to international visitors for 25 years
BATON ROUGE – January 6, 2014 – Louisiana Tax Free Shopping for International Visitors (LTFS) will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2014, with a special offer that makes it more convenient for merchants to participate.
LTFS gives international visitors the opportunity to make tax-free purchases at over 900 participating retailers throughout Louisiana. This year, in honor of the 25th anniversary, the membership fee for merchants has been lowered to $25 from $100. Any store wishing to participate should contact LTFS at (504) 484-4739 or visit the member information section at www.louisianataxfree.com.
The Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Program was created by Act 535 of 1988, introduced by state senators Hank Lauricella, Ben Bagert, and Ken Hollis, and by state representatives Jim Donelon, Woody Jenkins and Charles Lancaster. LTFS Refund Centers processed the first sales tax refunds for international visitors in November 1989.
At its inception, LTFS was the first such program of its kind in the United States and is one of only two in existence today. Subject to a regular review process, the legislature has never failed to renew the program, recognizing its value in generating tourism dollars and promoting the state to a global audience. Visitors enjoy the convenience of applying for the sales tax refund in cash at seven locations throughout the state.
“For 25 years, Louisiana Tax Free Shopping has offered international visitors a wonderful opportunity to shop and support hundreds of merchants around the state,” said LTFS Commission Chairman Steve Windham. “This year we’re hoping that the special low participation fee will expand the program, allowing small business owners to enjoy the same benefits that others have for the past quarter century. Participants are listed in our guidebooks, on our website, and receive special promotional material that helps set them apart. Joining LTFS is a true win-win for everyone in Louisiana.”
Added Dawn Johnson, Executive Director of the Louisiana Retailers Association, “Louisiana Tax Free Shopping is a unique program that promotes tourism and encourages international visitors to shop at participating stores in Louisiana. The reduction of membership fees will allow even more Louisiana retailers to participate in the Tax Free Shopping program, which has helped establish Louisiana as a tourism destination for international visitors.”
Since 1989, more than 800,000 international customers have taken advantage of Louisiana Tax Free Shopping and recorded over $600 million in international tax-free sales. Hotel, restaurant and food, and service sales taxes are not refundable.
The Louisiana Tax Free Shopping program offers international visitors to the state the opportunity to receive cash refunds for sales taxes paid on tangible items purchased at participating tax-free stores and permanently removed from the United States. Visitors can apply for refunds at seven locations throughout the state, including New Orleans, Metairie, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Bossier City, and Louis Armstrong International Airport. For more information: www.louisianataxfree.com
MAKING MONEY BY GIVING IT AWAY
It almost sounds like the subject line from a suspicious e-mail: “Making money by giving it away!” Yet for the last 25 years Louisiana Tax Free Shopping (LTFS) has been doing just that by offering sales tax rebates to Louisiana’s international visitors. This November, those visitors spent $6.5 million with our member merchants for a 2013 yearly total of $32.7 million, capping off our biggest year since 1999. That year, as LTFS marked 10 years of service, visitors spent $28 million. The success that our member stores continue to enjoy is evidence of a simple truth: No matter where they’re from, visitors appreciate a great deal. Each year, Louisiana Tax Free Shopping continues to prove that giving money away can be very profitable indeed. And now there’s another reason to become an LTFS member store – LTFS is lowering our membership fee from $100 to $25 to celebrate our 25th anniversary.
Talk to the international visitors at one of our sales tax rebate centers and you’ll see just how appreciated LTFS really is. Some will tell you that they specifically chose to shop at the Tanger Outlets in Gonzales instead of another state. They’ll let you know that the incentive of tax free shopping offered them the chance to travel outside of traditional tourist areas. Some will even tell you they came to Louisiana just for the tax free shopping opportunity, though more often the program is the tipping point for visitors who had already planned to take advantage of the United States’ lower prices on high end consumer goods. The late Eugene Schreiber, one of the program’s biggest boosters and the first chairman of the LTFS Commission, really drove the point home: “This groundbreaking program promotes both tourism and retail trade globally for the state and has become one more reason for international visitors to visit Louisiana.”
From 1989 – 2009 LTFS recorded half a million dollars in tax free sales, increasing tax revenue for the state by $1.4 million in 2007 alone and bringing $45.1 million to the state. Since then we’ve done more than $700 million in business. At this rate we’re looking at record sales while helping to grow the bottom line for more Louisiana businesses, increase state tax coffers, and put more money back in the hands of consumers from around the world – consumers that often name the program as one of the reasons they chose to visit Louisiana. Steve Windham, current chairman of the LTFS Commission, sees how the program ties into the state’s appeal to the foreign tourism market . “From 1989 – 2009 LTFS recorded half a million dollars in tax free sales, increasing tax revenue for the state by $1.4 million in 2007 alone and bringing $45.1 million to the state. Since then we’ve done more than $700 million in business. At this rate we’re looking at record sales while helping to grow the bottom line for more Louisiana businesses, increase state tax coffers, and put more money back in the hands of consumers from around the world – consumers that often name the program as one of the reasons they chose to visit Louisiana. Steve Windham, current chairman of the LTFS Commission, sees how the program ties into the state’s appeal to the foreign tourism market. “The U.S. Department of Commerce counts every dollar spent by international visitors toward our export totals—and I believe that one of Louisiana’s greatest exports is tourism. The tax free shopping program really enhances the efforts of Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne’s international visitor attraction activities.” said Mr. Windham.
Our former chairman, Mr. Schreiber, could not have been more correct. From humble beginnings we’ve really blossomed. We started with only one redemption center and have grown to our current seven statewide. We’ve become a selling point for travel agents, a draw for families and a plus for meeting and event planners from around the world. We truly are a unique program – the most streamlined of its kind – with rebates offered in person or through the post.
While we are quite proud of ourselves, we certainly can’t take all the credit for Louisiana’s success with international visitors—From Monroe to Shreveport, from Acadiana to New Orleans, there are literally hundreds of reasons to visit here. Travelers from Europe, Asia, and North and South America all seem to have one of our attractions on their bucket lists. They might combine a visit to the Jazz and Heritage Festival with a short drive to the Festival International in Lafayette, or explore Cajun country and take a fishing trip to the Gulf. And all along the way, they can find more than 900 participating businesses who can offer them tax free shopping as an added bonus.
The unique culture and three centuries of history in Louisiana offer international visitors experiences that they won’t find anywhere else in the United States. Jazz, zydeco, boudin, crawfish boils, adventure fishing, plantation tours, alligator farms—our state may not have it all, but we certainly have things that nobody else can offer!
What’s the number one tip for international travelers coming to Louisiana? Make a shopping list. There are shops of every description selling wares of every type. Electronics are very popular. The newest iPad is on everyone’s must have list. Jewelry, clothing, shoes – dozens of malls and an outlet plaza full of brand name stores from Macy’s to Victoria’s Secret participate in the program so you can get all your shopping done in one go! However, beyond the biggest retailers in the country, many small specialty shops are LTFS members. That leads to the number two tip for our visitors: Save your receipts! Additional savings can be found on almost every street.
And tip number three? Always check to see if a merchant is a member of LTFS. Big purchases mean big tax refunds, and little purchases really add up. We never want to tell a shopper “Sorry, we can’t refund the taxes on this purchase” because they didn’t check the list of member stores. That list is available in print and at www.louisianataxfree.com, so there is never a reason to shop without knowing if tax free purchases can be made.
Louisiana Tax Free Shopping is proud to contribute to the unique allure of Louisiana. Hold an alligator on a swamp tour? Great. Hold an alligator on a swamp tour and then get $100 off an alligator bag? Fantastic.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 12, 2013
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
Louisiana Tax Free Shopping
Louisiana Tax Free Shopping opens temporary refund centers in Downtown New Orleans
Today Louisiana Tax Free Shopping is opening the first of two temporary tax free shopping redemption centers in the Downtown New Orleans to serve international visitors until the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk reopens summer 2014. The centers will process paperwork for eligible shoppers to receive cash refunds for sales taxes under the Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Program for international visitors.
“International visitors stay longer and spend more money and shopping is a big draw for these tourists to come to Louisiana,” Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne said. “We’re excited to partner with the Convention Center and the Port to provide our visitors with a convenient place to obtain refunds during the Riverwalk construction.”
The temporary centers are located in the New Orleans Convention Center and the Port of New Orleans:
New Orleans Ernest Morial Convention Center Redemption Center opening today
Ticket Counter Outside of Hall A
Mondays through Fridays
10 a.m – 5 p.m.
Port of New Orleans Redemption Center opening Nov. 23
Saturdays and Sundays
10 a. m. – 3 p.m
The LTFS Program provides international visitors with an exemption from sales taxes for most retail purchases. In order to be eligible for the program, a visitor must be travelling on a foreign passport with a current U.S. tourist visa and be staying in the country for less than 90 days. Established in 1989, the LTFS Program has assisted more than 600,000 international visitors spending more than $500 million dollars while shopping in Louisiana. For more information on LTFS visit www.LouisianaTaxFree.com.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 3, 2013
You already know you have to make your way to Louisiana. The French Quarter’s been on your too-see list since you booked your flight to America, and you wouldn’t think of missing the plantation tours – but are you about to miss out on some of the most fun discount shopping America has to offer?
The first tax free shopping program for international visitors to the US is still the most hassle-free and the most unique. Louisiana’s tax free shopping program has been operating since 1989 and it’s no wonder why it’s been so successful. Where else in the world can you buy an alligator head and a Coach bag to carry it home in in side-by-side shops?
Louisiana’s one-of-a-kind flavor is world renowned, and it’s not limited to our famous gumbo and etoufee! We’re the only state in the nation where you can purchase an authentic voodoo doll then cross the street and get that iPad you’ve been promising yourself. And when you do, just bring your ID, save your receipt and stop into one of the six refund centers conveniently located throughout the state and get your tax refund in cash right then and there.
Our tax refund centers aren’t to be confused with the duty-free shops you’ll find at any international airport. Oh no – you’ll find a whole lot more than discount liquor and the same old souvenirs. More than 900 shops participate in our tax free shopping program, each one with that special Louisiana spirit you simply can’t find anywhere else. From the bayou to Bourbon street, from gift shops for the folks back home to fashion and accessories you’ll be showing off on the rest of your American adventure, Louisiana tax free shopping is as much a journey as it is a destination.
Make sure you don’t miss out on your ideal Louisiana shopping experience. Go to louisianataxfree.com and explore the directory of tax free shops to make your must-visit list. Don’t forget to ask your family back home what they want – or they may end up with a voodoo doll that looks like you.