Tuesday, May 12, 2020

IRS: Legislators Can't Double-Dip

Jim Hood strikes out again.

The IRS put a kibosh into the double-dipping plans of some freshman legislators. Y'all Politics reported:

In November 2018 and January 2019, Mississippi’s former Attorney General Jim Hood (D) issued opinions regarding PERS retirees serving in the Mississippi Legislature and continuing to receive benefits, according to PERS.

In response to those opinions, the PERS Board of Trustees approved initial adoption in April 2019 of revisions to PERS Board Regulation 34, Reemployment after Retirement, allowing PERS retirees to serve in the state Legislature while continuing to receive benefit payments under certain conditions. These revisions were officially adopted by the Board at their December 2019 meeting.

Since that time, four freshman state representatives were sworn in to the Mississippi House thinking they could both serve as a full time legislator/state employee and receive their full pension benefits from PERS.

Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, backed by the House Appropriations Committee, was adamant that that was not the case, resulting in two resignations so far with special elections pending.  Gunn said on multiple occasions, “It is not right for taxpayers to have to fund both,” meaning the lawmakers’ legislative pay and their PERS benefits.... Rest of post.

PERS Executive Director Ray Higgins posted on PERS website:

 After months of consideration and correspondence, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has decided to decline to rule on the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi's (PERS') private letter ruling request about recent revisions to Regulation 34, Reemployment after Retirement, which is their prerogative under federal law. (Click here to view the IRS' written response.​)

PERS leadership, representatives from the Attorney General’s Office, outside tax counsel, and the PERS Board will consider the System's next steps going forward, and I anticipate this matter possibly being an agenda item for discussion at the regularly scheduled committee or board meetings in late June.
 Make no mistake, this was a win for the Speaker of the House.  Y'all Politics continued:

 Essentially, this means Speaker Gunn and his leadership team are vindicated in not allowing lawmakers to double dip retiree benefits while serving in the Legislature.

Former AG Jim Hood and PERS seemed to have jumped the gun in their ruling that retirees could serve in the Legislature while drawing their retirement, because their opinion depended on the IRS ultimately giving the green light.  Again, that did not happen, placing Legislative districts, candidates and now office holders in a state of turmoil, all the while adding costs to taxpayers.
The IRS letter is posted below.


Anonymous said...

Well, at least they can slurp up all the benefits they told PERS to give them. From the PERS SLRP handbook:

Benefit Amount
The retirement allowance provided under SLRP is equal
to 50 percent of the retirement allowance provided under PERS,
but applies only to a retirement allowance earned as a member of
the Mississippi Legislature or as the President of the Senate.

Such esteemed representatives of our fine state.

Anonymous said...

All of the players knew that the opinion was Kabuki theater. Now the final curtain has come down.

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of the scene in Animal Farm when Squealer modifies Old Major's rules that were painted on the barn that statedAll animals are created equal to include Napoleon's quote but some animals are more equal than others which is a perfect allegory for Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

SO... does this mean all those liberals bashing Gunn as "hateful," "corrupt," and "crooked" will now call their precious IRS hateful, corrupt and/or crooked? I mean, their tax handouts have to be collected SOMEWHERE, so it is proper to acknowledge the libs adore the IRS... right??

What are the current odds on a timeframe for Hood to speak out?? Any bets going?

Anonymous said...

This letter seems to simply state that the IRS will not send a private letter ruling, not that the rules PERS adopted are not appropriate. Perhaps they don't want to get involved in a political dispute.

I can't profess to state what is right or wrong. I had read that the PERS regs adopted were common practice in other states and that PERS seeking a private letter ruling was simply out of abundance of caution.

So, is this actually an allowed practice in other states and why wouldn't it be allowed in MS?

Anonymous said...

4:21 - In effect, the IRS said, "Whatever you guys do over there in Mississippi is up to y'all"... In other words, they don't give a rat's ass about this nickel and dime shit. This is no win for Gunn. The legislature can deal with it.

Bill Dees said...

KF, your headline is VERY misleading.

Anonymous said...

Gunn is a pompous ass who thinks he's untouchable--Karma may bite him on the ass

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