Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Phil Bryant's Tax Plan Needs Work

Yesterday, Governor Phil Bryant rolled out his budget plan for the upcoming legislative session. In his announcement, Bryant noted
“Mississippi should start fiscal year 2016 in the best financial health it’s ever had. This budget addresses the needs of the state while giving back money to the hard working families of Mississippi,” Gov. Bryant said. “The increase in revenues is an opportunity to return money to the taxpayers, not to spend more on government programs.”
This tax credit will allow low to moderate income working families the opportunity to take advantage of a nonrefundable tax credit. This will allow for full or partial relief of an individual’s income tax liability depending on his or her income and filing status.
“I believe the additional money Mississippians will save on taxes will be reinvested in the state’s economy,” Gov. Bryant said. “I look forward to working with the Legislature in providing tax relief to working families, as well as finding ways to reduce the tax burden on small businesses and corporations.”
To make sure the state is protected during uncertain economic times, the tax credit will only be available in years when the “Rainy Day Fund” is full and revenue estimates meet or exceed 3 percent growth. 
Here's the problem: Bryant's proposal is a double standard and does not go as far as it could to help poor Mississippians.

Bryant sets conditions on which a tax reduction would occur for poorer people. When he signed a bill in 2012 giving a $24 million bailout to a shopping mall in Pearl, Bryant did not say that economic growth must exceed 3 percent or that the Rainy Day Fund be full. The difference is that this bailout was given to Bryant's campaign donors, not ordinary Mississippians. Bryant has set no similar standard for companies that get business loans or grants for the state, but when it comes to poor Mississippians,

Additionally, the tax credit is nonrefundable. That means a person or family's tax liability cannot drop below $0. For all Bryant's grandstanding about returning money to the taxpayers, his own statement concedes that this may not occur.

Do not be fooled by what the governor is trying to do. Phil Bryant is trying to have a news cycle where he looks like he is a champion of poor Mississippians. His plan, however, needs a lot of work in order to make that a reality. Bryant needs to go back to the drawing board and try again.

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