Ken Cardinal is a retired musician, and a retired medical device manufacturer. Ken and his wife Cheryl are Minnesotans by birth. But they're proud to tell their friends back in Minnesota they're now Mississippians by choice. The coast retiree told them, "The gulf coast has the greatest people you'll ever find."
The retired couple moved to the coast in December. They came here for the people, and the weather. And as a bonus, they'll get to capitalize on the tax benefits like homestead exemption that Mississippi offers its senior citizens. "So you've got to maximize whatever you've got," Cardinal said. "And if you can save a buck here that is an extra buck in my pocket here."
His wife then added that with the extra buck, "You can spend it someplace else to bring it back into the economy."
Mississippi lawmakers have a plan to put more money in seniors, and disabled people's pockets. The bill raises the homestead exemption to $75,000. That should offset county property reappraisals that hampered people on fixed incomes. Cheryl Cardinal said that "means a better way of living. Why not. That's what everybody strives for."
Local tax assessors say a $75,000 homestead exemption will help people who need it most. It will virtually eliminate property tax bills for older homeowners. In April, when Ken Cardinal turns 65, he'll qualify for the tax break.
"You go up $10 and they give you $10," he said. "But at least you're not going in the opposite direction. And that's a big factor."
Because of benefits like homestead exemption, retired couples like the Cardinals say they can live in Mississippi without taxes being too big a burden.
Because of recent reappraisals, nearly three thousand Harrison County senior citizens and disabled people have to pay property taxes that they didn't pay before. Tax assessor Tal Flurry says a $75,000 homestead exemption would drop that number to about a thousand.
by Brad Kessie