Plaintiff’s drilling barge caught fire causing extensive damage. Repairs were made at a cost of $11 million. Under La. R.S. 47:305.1(A), taxes imposed shall not apply to sales of materials, machinery, and equipment which become component parts of a vessel of fifty tons and over, if the vessel is built in Louisiana. Further, a tax exemption applies to construction or reconstruction, but not to the replacement of worn components. Louisiana law also provides that the exemption applies if the reconstruction restores the vessel to seaworthiness following its destruction by sinking, collision, or fire. Plaintiff relied on this tax exemption and did not pay any sales or use taxes on the materials purchased to repair the barge. Nevertheless, the local tax collector assessed taxes on the repair equipment.
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