Tax Breaks A Hot Topic For Lawmakers Next Session

By Jon Kalahar - email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - It's not completely broken down, but there are some areas that need a little fixing up. That's what a national tax expert says about Mississippi's tax system.

"There are a lot of tools in the state tax policy tool kit, pretty common sense things that a lot of other states, a lot of other southern states have done that Mississippi could do as well," said Jason Levitis with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Washington state tax systems expert Jason Levitis said number one on his list is cutting the seven percent grocery tax.

"Most other states now at least partially exempt groceries from the sales tax or they have some sort of credit to help families pay for it; Mississippi does not," Levitis said.

He sees the potential tobacco tax increase as a positive step and income tax cuts as doable. Levitis also recommended balancing the tax system better between personal income taxes and corporate taxes. But not everyone agrees.

"The corporations don't pay taxes. They put it in the cost of doing business and pass it down to the consumers. So it gets to the consumers either way," said Rep. Jim Ellington, (R) Jackson.

Other committee members believe everyone must pay his or her fair share to help Mississippi's economy.

"We have to put more of our funds into areas that's going to attract more businesses. And we can't do that because we're not getting enough of those funds where they should be; there's too many loop holes," said Rep. Credell Calhoun, (D) Jackson.

Loop holes that if closed could help the Mississippi working class.

Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant favors income tax breaks for citizens if they pass a tobacco tax. The Governor's tax study commission is expected to release its recommendations later this month.