Deadline approaches for Mississippi lawmakers to pass tax reform legislation

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 5:25 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NORTH MISSISSIPPI (WMC) - With only 10 days left in the 2022 Mississippi General Assembly, Senate and House lawmakers have still yet to push a unified tax reform proposal before the desk of Governor Tate Reeves.

MS-02 Senator David Parker of Olive Branch says he still has hope something will get done.

“We really are in the last phases of trying to get an agreement,” Parker said.

Parker is one of three conferees, or a legislator that will meet in a small conference, selected by Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann to meet with three conferees on the House side.

From there, the group will be able to discuss the issue and, if a compromise is made, sign a conference report that will go back before both bodies.

Should both the House and Senate vote in support of the report, it will then go to the desk of Governor Tate Reeves.

All this was announced shortly before Governor Reeves introduced his own suggestions on how to reform taxes in the state.

“It’s cutting close to the deadline,” Parker said. “We’re supposed to be signing in a little more than a week or so. We’re trying to get these last things finalized in a manner so we can get home to our families.”

The provisions in the latest Senate proposal include reducing the state grocery tax from 7% to 5%, providing a tax rebate to Mississippi filers, and phasing out the state’s 4% tax bracket, or the income tax on taxable income in excess of $5,000 up to and including $10,000.

“We’d gradually reduce the 5% tax rate by .1% over a period of 4 years,” Parker said. “After eight years, we would no longer have the 4% bracket, and we would have a 4.6% bracket, only.”

In total, the Senate’s proposal would amount to $439 million, according to Parker.

It’s a way, he says, the state can ensure relief for tax payers and run government efficiently.

Meanwhile, the House wishes to eliminate the state income tax over the course of several years, while raising the sales tax by 1.5%, totaling 8.5%.

Parker doesn’t see this as a tax deduction but a tax swap.

“We’d love to have (income tax elimination) happen, but I just want to be convinced that we can do it in a responsible nature,” Parker said.

The three House conferees are representatives Trey Lamar (MS-08), Jody Steverson (MS-04) and Steve Massengill (MS-14), all in North Mississippi, did not return our request for comment on Friday.

Lamar, the House’s Ways and Means Chair, did tweet earlier this week on the state’s surplus in funds.

The state’s Joint Legislative Budget Office met Friday with revised estimates on how much revenue will come into the state this year.

Parker said the findings were more than what was expected, $500 million more, but again he wants to make sure the needs of Mississippians, from a public service standpoint, are met before a “complete overhaul of the tax system.”

“I think the conversations have gotten measurably better, and there is clear effort to find that common ground that I think achieves a good purpose for the people of Mississippi,” said Empower Mississippi President Russ Latino.

From the outside looking in, Latino is “cautiously hopeful” substantial tax reform is in the near future for Mississippi tax payers.

“The governor has made it clear that this is a priority and that he’s willing to use the tools that are at his disposal,” Latino said.

One of those tools at Gov. Reeves’ disposal is the power to call a special session, but Latino doesn’t think it’s his preference to use that.

The hope is to reach that common ground, sign a conference report, and bring it to the governor’s desk before the end of the general assembly, helping save Mississippians hundreds - at the very least - of hard-earned dollars from tax reform.

Copyright 2022 WMC. All rights reserved.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

Click here to report a spelling or grammar error. Please include the headline.