Saturday, February 25, 2017

Bill Crawford: Is it a tax increase or a shift?

The Tax Foundation expert legislative leaders brought in last fall to advise them on tax reform recommended a shift in the state’s tax burden – away from corporate and individual income taxes to user-based taxes.

The key word is “shift.”

User-based taxes – gas taxes, sales taxes, use taxes, etc. – are already on the books in Mississippi. The tax expert called for these taxes to be expanded and corporate and income taxes reduced.

The Legislature has begun the shift away from corporate and individual income taxes with cuts that will begin phasing in next year.

What has not happened, yet, is any shift of taxes on to users.

And, thanks to, eh, subdued leadership on this issue, the Legislature may have missed the window to get it done.

While both Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn favored the tax burden shift, explaining that meant some taxes would go up as others went down, they didn't take the bull by the horns and sell it to the rank and file.

It appears the many Republican legislators who promised voters they will never ever raise taxes can't distinguish a tax shift from a tax hike. Nor have anti-tax groups bought into the notion that a tax burden shift is a good thing. They like the down but fight the up.

A bill, modeled on an Alabama law, would allow the state to collect use taxes on Internet sales and, thereby, increase user-based tax revenue. The Mississippi Tea Party attacked it as a tax increase rather than a shift.

The tax expert told lawmakers they should expand gas taxes enough to cover road and bridge repair costs. That is the essence of user-based taxes – road and bridge users should pay to keep them in good shape. The Mississippi chapter of Americans for Prosperity and the Mississippi Tea Party both attacked this as a tax increase rather than a shift. Subdued legislative leaders abandoned it again this year.

The Speaker, who praised the tax expert’s recommendations, appears to have abandoned gas tax expansion altogether. Instead, he now proposes earmarking Internet taxes for road and bridge repairs.

Given the state’s deteriorating revenues, taxes on Internet sales should go to the general fund, like other use taxes, to offset both existing budget shortfalls and pending reductions from corporate and income tax cuts. That's if the bill can even get passed.

The most palatable way to handle the gas tax is to phase it in over multiple years just like the tax cuts, e.g. a two-cent per gallon per year increase phased in over six years.

According to the tax expert, shifting the tax burden away from corporate and income taxes is pro-growth and will improve the state’s business tax climate. Likewise, investing in transportation infrastructure is pro-growth because businesses need useable roads and bridges to transport products.

However, there will be no tax burden shift unless Reeves and Gunn summon the gumption to make it happen. That lacking, they should delay tax cuts until state revenues are in better shape.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (


Anonymous said...

This is what someone writes when he's too stupid (or too callous) to understand the idea of a regressive tax.

Does this Crawford guy pay to get his brain excretions published at JJ?

Anonymous said...

Crawford isn't under some obligation to grind your grist at his mill. Nothing stopping you from dropping a few paragraphs here regarding your abhorrence for regressive taxation though we've heard the whine before. Maybe a Rick Cleveland column is more your speed.

Anonymous said...

Aside from Medicaid, Bond Payments and other federally mandated programs, what has the state increased spending on? Phil keeps saying the state is spending more than it used to, but he isn't specific on what the spending is. I ask because I waited 1.5 hours for the forestry commission to show up on a woods fire. Bulldozer came from one county and the supervisor came from another. The delay wasn't from them being busy, but rather all the layoffs and cutbacks have gutted their resources. Again, where is this "extra" money going?

Anonymous said...

Hey, it only means that the poor who make up a large percentage of Mississippi's "citizens" will pay an even larger percentage of their income in taxes, the rich and corporations should pay less. Who's not for that?

Anonymous said...

Whom do "use taxes" benefit? The half of MS households who make less than $37k a year? Nope.

The sooty cyclist on the broken bridge said...

I'm all for a hike in the fuel tax as a "user tax" simply because I drive fairly fuel efficient vehicles. Now the punk ass kids driving the monster trucks with diesel engines "rolling coal" and the gas burner pick up trucks with loud ass (non) mufflers---they are going through some fuel. So stick it to them for being a nuisance.
Otherwise, follow my logic here. Whenever a new or used mobile home gets placed in a new location, there are specifications for how the dirtwork "pad" under the mobile home needs to be constructed with regard to drainage. These specifications aren't per city or county codes, but statewide as determined by (insert drum roll here) the State Fire Marshall, who later inspects the placed mobile home for compliance with the specifications. Now, the rub here is who gets stuck with a fine when the mobile home "pad" doesn't meet specifications and the home is already in place. It's not the mobile home owner. It's not the county supervisor. It's not the mobile home seller. It's not the city inspector. Who gets stuck? The freakin truck driver that delivered and placed the mobile home, that's who!
So logic follows; the #1 "road and bridge killer in the rural areas of our State" are without argument the guys driving the trucks hauling cut trees to the mill. THIS is the industry that needs to be held accountable. Either stick it to the driver, the loader or the mill for these overweight hauls and enforce it with a vengeance.

Reality said...

The State could add a nickel tax to every gallon of fuel you purchase and you could still drive less than 5 miles from one fuel station to another to find it a dime cheaper per gallon.

Anonymous said...

12:47, that is true, and it is called free market capitalism. If I am the seller, I mark my price. If you choose to buy it from me at a lower price because you are shopping for price, it works. If you choose to not buy it from me because it is a dime higher but I offer a better quality, a nicer place to shop, other amenities that you don't care about, that works as well. The only thing that would be constant is the total amount of tax. So, as to the subject of this discussion, what's your point?

Anonymous said...

A very insightful column by Crawford and should be noted by not just the state leaders but the leadership of these so-called conservative groups. Frankly, the MS Tea Party (or any of the groups claiming use of the name) amounts to little or no influence anymore, and I don't think they really had much to do with the internet sales tax. AFP though, on the other hand has many of its footsoldiers that were part of the tea party over the past years and they not only have been fighting to kill the gas tax but also the internet use tax.

The Koch Brothers have begun to have the same influence, with the same process but on the other side, as George Soros. Soros' group wants to cut no taxes and increase spending. Koch (AFP) wants to cut any tax but not have any reform that would swap sources. The members of the legislature, Gunn, Reeves and Bryant all need to stand up against them and continue with the effort to reform the tax system.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if the state quit throwing money down the education hole giving away money to crooked school administrators and their consultants they could afford to educate children. Subsidizing soft drinks for people that do not work would also be nice. Our legislature does not have the votes to remove soft drinks from the food stamp program. What message does that send to people working in this state?

Anonymous said...

Nobody is moving here or moving away due to our tax structure. They stay here because they have to or because they have family. MS GOP has no clue how tax policy should work. No business in their right mind would come here with our roads, educational or social systems in such disarray. Unless of course they were paid to come here.

Our state leaders are like the string quartet on the Titanic.

Anonymous said...

This state has no coherent long-term education, infrastructure, economic or tax planning. Every legislative session is spent obsessed about what gay people are doing and if immigrants might be hiding under your bed. It is very poor planning to eliminate taxes and then come back the next session and stick those taxes on the poor and elderly. Lack of leadership is the problem in this state.

Anonymous said...

@5:28 you do realize that SNAP is a federal program, right? And, you do also realize that most SNAP recipients are working including plenty of military, first responders, and teachers who are head of households with low paying jobs. By all means lets tell those folks they can't buy a soft drink.

Anonymous said...

Feel, Tater, and Feelip love to tax us and call it something else.

PittPanther said...

You can set the corporate tax rate to 0%, and it still won't result in any businesses moving to MS, unless you PAY them to move here.

No company is willingly moving to a state with poor infrastructure, poor education, and few cultural and recreational outlets.

Anonymous said...

5:39: " Unless of course they were paid to come here."

9:48: "unless you PAY them to move here."

Looks like Soros is finally getting his sheep in line with their daily talking points. Too bad the election was 3 months ago.

Anonymous said...

@8:25 Those people are actually forcing taxpayers to buy them soft drinks because they chose to live beyond their means.

Is Pitt Under Your Bed?.. said...

5:39 and Pitt @ 9:48 posted virtually identical messages and words. Could it be Pitt is hedging now by posting anonymously. Did he get tired of being called out for his nonsense and, so, went underground?

And, @ 5:59; although your comment about 'worrying about what gay people are doing and whether immigrants are hiding under your bed' is bound to draw giggles from the left, I've not know of any legislature to worry, inordinately, about those things. What they did, instead, was attempt to protect your religious rights and protect us all from the endless national influx of illegals. We don't care if people are under your bed or in your closet. Come on out.

Anonymous said...

We are about to get the lottery folks, that's the only thing that will save Tater. Bryant is only bringing it up because Tater needs a parachute, he dictated all of these tax cuts rather than reinstate them he is willing to tax the poor and I mean poor fools who play the lot..trey...

Anonymous said...

The lottery is actually very cheap to play 7:47. That's why it sells millions and millions of dollar tickets. Try it.

Anonymous said...

5:39 on The string quartet on the Titanic didn't want to take seats away from women and children and tried to provide some comfort in a bad situation as welling as ending life as they lived it best.

The legislature has no honorable excuses for not doing the job we pay them to do which is make good decisions on our behalf without putting their self-interest ahead of that of the State!

Anonymous said...

So, 50% of the world's wealth is now in the control of 8 people, down from a bit over 60. Our Nation's wealth is in control of 1%. Average world wide wages are down to $2 so global economic theory isn't improving jobs as wages worldwide as promised.

If reducing taxes on the wealthy and businesses/corporations and deregulation resulted in more jobs and better paying jobs, why has per capita income decreased and hourly wages remained static while hours worked and productivity increased?

You might also explain to me how increasing troops and bombing in the Middle East in an unbudgeted war , building a wall and increasing border security as well as local costs while reducing taxes and thus revenues is going to improve our deficit spending and debt. And, infrastructure has been taken off the table which can be argued improves commerce.

When did our National debt and the deficit get abandoned by " conservatives" ?

Oh, and has Tort reform made your medical costs in going to a doctor be less or improved health insurance costs or resulted in improved medical care statistics in any category? Would we be expecting a 90000 shortage of doctors if more had wanted to go to medical school as promised with " reforms"?

Even Adam Smith and Hamilton understood that the role of government in capitalism is to make the playing field as level as possible so competition can flourish, supply and demand can work, "too big to fail" ( once more honestly called monopolies) couldn't form to wreck an economy, and political power didn't end up in the hands of a few controlling the wealth and resources of a Nation. They looked at economic history and what did and didn't work. They knew a strong middle class is essential to national prosperity and security. They, like our Founders, were products of The Age of Reason and understood the value of an informed and educated ( if not formally) citizen (it's why at first only property owners could vote). And, few of them were born with a "silver spoon" in their mouths. They were egalitarian if born to wealth or successful in the "colonies".

They knew that capitalism and democracy is based on fairness and equity. They thought those who benefit the most from those systems have the most to lose if those systems fail and the most responsibility ( because they have the most resources as well as potentially the most to lose ...then anyway when the rich didn't have homes abroad) to make sure that doesn't.

Tell me how things have gotten better for the middle class that you want to pay usage taxes since WWII. The wealthy will write those " usage taxes" off as " business expenses" or else cut down on fine dining. The rest of Mississippi working poor tax payers will have to cut down on groceries or put off going to the doctor or getting the kids new shoes or forego entertainment like taking the family to a movie or the local catfish restaurant. That's why the usage tax is regressive. It is not a burden on the wealthy but it is a burden on the working poor taxpayers. $5 a gallon doesn't mean anything to Bill Gates but means " real" money to the guy flipping burgers!

By the way, those thugs and " welfare queens" you love to hate don't pay taxes. Sadly, neither do most of the very wealthy!

bill said...

5:23, I think you'd be surprised at the programs and initiatives that the Koch Brothers, through AFP and other organizations, have promoted and continue to promote. There's nothing radical about trying to reduce the size and role of government in our daily lives, and with this comes less need for our tax dollars. Sometimes you have to reverse the order of those two things to accomplish the same goal, but it's still a worthwhile goal.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately for the GOV and politicians like him, Mississippi has always been made up of a bunch of suicidal maniacs who would rather die themselves than see someone of another color stand in the welfare line in front of them. Tax breaks for the rich won't help them but they sure won't help those "other people' either. Because of that mentality, a true populist tax revolt will never get traction in Mississippi and the few corporations daring to come here and the petty rich fatcats will continue to have a field day in the legislature. Same as always.

5:23 said...

Bill, I don't disagree that the Koch Brothers and their boy here in the state do promote several good things toward reducing the size and role of government. But that doesn't equate to being against any tax reform just because it might increase a particular tax in the process. I am not against the reduction of government and the reduction of the overall tax take - but also recognize that a reorganization of our tax policy is a good thing as well. And that reorganization should include some increases in taxes which is evidently against the AFP program.

It is possible to be for reduced government, limited role in our lives, and also for increasing certain taxes or increase the enforcement of the collection of taxes. But what is happening with AFP is a one-sided approach that will probalby end up with no net change. Definition of insanity if I remember correctly.

Anonymous said...

... and their boy here ...

Thanks for disqualifying yourself and your comment.

Anonymous said...

9:39 - I quit reading your drivel as soon as you typed "average worldwide wages are down $2". You know that is meaningless information having absolutely no utility whatever. It's as useless as the average length of all No.2 pencils still in use. Thank God you typed it early in your diatribe so I didn't have to continue to suffer your crap.

1123 said...

11:37 - would you like their man, or their guy, or their person better? If so, please feel free to change. Point is still the same. It don't care who it is - and you evidently must disagree that their guy is doing a good job which I think was said about whoever it is that is leading this charge.

bill said...

I think their approach to increasing any tax is to resist, because any tax increase can only be used to grow government. Now, maybe government needs to grow in some areas, but the areas we don't need at all can be eliminated to fund the areas that need to grow. I realize that it's folly to think we'll ever eliminate all the waste, but can we get at least some of it before we start raising taxes on people who are already paying too much?

Anonymous said...

PittPanther there are few takers even when the state tries to pay companies to move here. In addition to the factors you mentioned, the last several legislative sessions passing hate bills have set the state back for decades.

The State Is Doomed Sez Rachel Maddow.. said...

6:17 - Other than being a member of the 'chanting left', what evidence do you have or can you produce that verifies the state being set back for decades. In fact, there is no way to prove your claim until several decades have passed. You know that, right?

This is nothing more than leftist, liberal, rainbow talking-points fed to you from your daily sources. Nobody is going to buy your bullshit regardless of how many times in different ways, using different screen names, you post it here.

Anonymous said...

12:50 pm Global Economic Theory is not limited to increasing markets or expanding business opportunities. One of the goals touted was worldwide wage parity.
That is why I included that statistic. We could argue whether or not one can adequately account for differences in cost of living accurately but you missed the point.
The point is that the notion that the profits generated result in creating jobs and expanding a business and not to increasing personal wealth and influence is not guaranteed.
The economic systems and governmental systems in each country much establish policies to make sure that happens.
Since some of the wealth has gone to making sure systems are not establishing such policies, the theory isn't working. The theory overlooked human nature, nationalism and religion as well.
Instead, the work force is reduced ( not just through robots), more hours are worked for less money while productivity increases and profits increase.

Anonymous said...

@ The State Is Doomed Sez Rachel Maddow

What the f*ck are you not seeing or understanding?

For every dollar a Mississippian makes, two dollars are leaving and benefitting one the contiguous states.

We are not keeping money in our state, the tax cuts passed by the legislature are not reaping any tangible benefits.

This isn't some leftist propaganda talking points.

Where can you honestly say you've seen growth? Nissan has helped, but it hasn't been a game changer.

Continental Tire is a plus, but we paid a hefty price to get them here. Even when it comes to building that plant, out of state contractors are benefitting from that.

What are some things Mississippi can hang its hat on, fiscally, that asserts itself from our neighbors?

Mental Health is screwed, DHS is a nightmare, Public Safety is a lawsuit waiting to happen, Corrections is a hefty portion of states budget, Medicaid is in a flux because of self imposed austerity, Education is constantly ignored with no real solutions in place, Department of Transportation and Department of Health are telling legislators what they want to hear and not what they need to know to get things fixed.

Anonymous said...

and Jim Hood won't win.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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