Louisiana offers a tax break to restaurants that don't trash their oyster shells

For every 50 pounds of shells they provide, the state awards a credit of $1. The shells are used to protect oyster beds.
oyster shell tax break
Emptied shells could be worth something. | Photo: Shutterstock

Restaurants in Louisiana will be able to trade their emptied oyster shells for tax credits under a law just passed by the home of the po’ boy.

The measure grants restaurants $1 off their income taxes for every 50 pounds of oyster shells they provide to groups that use the shells to build reefs off the Louisiana coast.

The write-off is capped at $2,000 annually per establishment.

The program itself can only award $100,000 in credits per year. The state has indicated that it will award the credits on a first-asked-first-considered basis.

The law, which takes effect Aug. 1, is intended to encourage more restaurants to participate in Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), a not-for-profit program devoted to protecting Louisiana’s waters and coastlines. The group builds reefs of baled oyster shells to protect the sandier areas closer to shore where oysters propagate.

Most restaurants discard shells as garbage. But even without the incentive of a tax break, restaurants have donated 13 billion pounds of the shells for shore restoration. Stakeholders clearly expect the added lure of a tax break to greatly escalate that number. 

The legislation moved through both chambers of Louisiana’s legislature without drawing a “no” vote. It was quickly signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The Louisiana Restaurant Association was among the many trade groups that supported the measure.

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