§313. System of import permits; seizure and forfeiture of vehicles used in importing without permit
A. In order to prevent the illegal importation of tangible personal property which is subject to tax, and to strengthen and make more effective the manner and method of enforcing payment of the tax imposed by this Chapter, the collector is hereby authorized to put into operation a system of permits whereby any person or dealer may import tangible personal property by truck, automobile, or other means of transportation other than a common carrier, without having the truck, automobile or other means of transportation seized and subjected to legal proceeding for its forfeiture. Such system of permits shall require the person or dealer who desires to import tangible personal property subject to tax imposed by this Chapter, to apply to the collector for a permit, stating the kind of vehicle to be used, the name of the driver, the license number of the vehicle, the kind or character of tangible personal property to be imported, the date, the name and address of the consignee, and such other information as the collector may deem proper or necessary. These permits shall be free of cost to the applicant and may be obtained at any of the branch offices of the department of revenue, including the branch offices located at Shreveport and Lake Charles.
B. The importation into this state of tangible personal property which is subject to tax, by truck, automobile, or other means of transportation other than a common carrier, without having first obtained a permit described above, (if the tax imposed by this Chapter has not been paid), is prohibited and shall be construed as an attempt to evade payment of the tax; and the truck, automobile, or means of transportation other than a common carrier, as well as the taxable property may be seized by the collector in order to secure the same as evidence in a trial, and it shall be subject to forfeiture and sale in the manner provided for in this Chapter.
C. The collector is authorized in a summary proceeding, or by an action against the owner or operator of any truck, automobile or means of transportation other than a common carrier, used in the illegal importation and transportation of any article or articles of tangible personal property on which a tax is levied by this Chapter, and on which the tax has not been paid, to demand the forfeiture and sale of the truck, automobile or other means of transportation, together with the said taxable property, used in the illegal importation and in violation of this Chapter.
D. In all cases where it is made to appear by affidavit that the residence of the owner of the automobile, truck or other means of transportation is out of the state, or is unknown to the collector, the court having jurisdiction of the proceeding shall appoint an attorney at law to represent the absent owner against whom the proceeding shall be tried contradictorily within ten days after the filing of the same. The affidavit may be made by the collector or one of his assistants, or by the attorney representing the collector, if it is not convenient to obtain the affidavit of the collector or one of his assistants. The attorney appointed to represent the absent owner may waive service and citation of the petition or rule, but he shall not waive any legal defense. If, upon the trial of the proceeding, it is established that the automobile, truck, or other means of transportation, has been used to transport any article of tangible personal property upon which a tax is levied by this Chapter, and upon which the tax has not been paid, without first having obtained a permit from the collector as provided herein, then the court shall render judgment accordingly, declaring the forfeiture of the taxable property and of the automobile, truck, or other means of transportation and ordering the sale thereof after ten days' notice by advertisement in the official parish paper where the seizure is made, by the civil sheriff of the parish of Orleans, or by the sheriff of the parish in which the seizure is made; this sale shall be made at public auction at the court house, to the highest bidder, for cash, and without appraisement. It is the intent and purpose of these proceedings to afford the owner of the automobile, truck or other means of transportation a fair opportunity for hearing in a court of competent jurisdiction. It is further the intent and purpose of these proceedings that the forfeiture and sale of the automobile, truck or other means of transportation, and of the taxable property being transported therein, shall be and operate as a penalty for the violation of this Chapter by the illegal transportation and importation of tangible personal property subject to the tax; and the payment of the tax due on the article upon which a tax is levied by this Chapter, at the moment of seizure or thereafter, shall not operate to prevent, abate, discontinue or defeat the forfeiture and sale of the property. All funds collected from the seized and forfeited property shall be paid into the state treasury and credited in the same manner as provided for the tax herein levied. The court shall fix the fee of the attorney representing the owner when appointed by the court, at a nominal sum not to exceed ten per centum (10%) to be taxed as costs and to be paid out of the proceeds of the sale of the property.