Sen. Juan Barnett (D-Heidelberg), Rep. Robin Robinson (R-Laurel) and Rep. Donnie Scoggin (R-Ellisville) discussed the implications of the largest tax cut passed in Mississippi history and how the eventual elimination of state income tax would affect the state.
Governor Tate Reeves has signed a bill that begins in 2023 to reduce state income tax collected over the next four years. The 4% income tax bracket will be eliminated next year and within three years the 5% bracket will be reduced to 4%, the bill says. Non-taxable income levels will be $18,300 for a single person and $36,600 for a married couple, according to The Associated Press.
Putting money back in the pockets of hard-working Mississippians was Robinson’s top priority during the campaign trail, she said.
“So the previous bill, No. 531, called the Mississippi Tax Freedom Act, is the biggest cut in our history — $525 million in tax relief for working families in Mississippi,” Robinson said. “I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of money that can go back into the pockets of hard-working people.”
One thing Robinson learned from talking to officials in states with no income tax is that it contributes to “brain drain,” in which the most educated people leave the state.
“It helps people stay in the state rather than leaving and going somewhere else if they don’t have that tax,” Robinson said. “The goal is to eliminate the 4% in 2023 and set the stage for complete elimination of income tax eventually.”
The Legislature has put in place some measures in 2026 to conduct a study if the state chooses not to eliminate state income tax, she said.
“I think it’s a good thing for our state,” Robinson said. “It’s something I will continue to work for.”
The money coming into the state is exceptional, Scoggin said, and the sales tax numbers are “outrageously high” and people are spending money.
“By doing that, giving money back to people and reducing sales tax, the goal is that you’re going to spend more money,” Scoggin said. “You’re going to go out and buy stuff, and in doing so, it’s going to stimulate the economy.”
Scoggins said he hopes the state will continue to grow and become more popular for retirement and keep young people in the state.
The Senate and House had to compromise, Barnett said, adding that he was one of five Democrats who voted for the bill.
“There was a general concern as to why I should vote for this because, when you think about possible cuts to education, transport, broadband and infrastructure,” Barnett said. “But in the end,
I must not let my fears overshadow the fact that we have hard working people in Mississippi who need to be able to take home more of their income.
One of the reasons Barnett voted for the bill was that what may seem like a small amount of money to some would be a game changer for others.
“There are hard-working families who need that extra $90 or $100 a month,” Barnett said. “Hopefully that changes the fact that we don’t have our best educated and brightest of the brightest leaving the state to go on and build other places.”