AP News

Miss. bill could allow companies to pay less tax


JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A tax collection proposal moving through the Mississippi Legislature could cut state revenue by more than $100 million next year.

The state House voted 113-2 Friday to approve House Bill 799, which now goes to the Senate. The upper chamber is considering a nearly identical bill, Senate Bill 2487.

The proposal, supported by the Mississippi Economic Council, would cut interest rates on overdue taxes, make it harder for the state Revenue Department to collect tax penalties and make it harder for the state to dispute taxes paid in Mississippi by multistate corporations. The Revenue Department is fighting the bill, saying it could cause a number of administrative problems.

"I think that is why the bill was presented, was to reduce the burden of some taxpayers," Revenue Department spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury said.

Officials with MEC could not immediately be reached.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said he's talking to state officials, but the deck is stacked against taxpayers now. "It's hard to understand the tremendous burden that individuals and small businesses may have," Smith said Friday.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that credit bureau Equifax Inc. had to prove that it didn't earn any taxable income in the state. The Revenue Department examined Equifax's income and allocated some to Mississippi, ruling it owed taxes and penalties.

The bills would overturn the ruling by requiring a higher standard of proof before the Revenue Department could reallocate income from other states.

Mississippi collected $600 million in corporate income tax last year, but some states don't collect income taxes.

The Revenue Department estimates Mississippi tax collections could be cut by $7.5 million in the rest of the current budget year and $25 million for the year beginning July 1.

The bills would cut the yearly interest rate on all overdue taxes from 12 percent to 6 percent, which officials estimate would cut collections by $9.6 million this year and $38.4 million next year. It would also make it harder to penalize for back taxes, costing as much as $9.8 million this year and $39.2 million next year, Waterbury said.

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Follow Jeff Amy at http://twitter.com/jeffamy


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