(Tax) Relief in Sight

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Thousands of Mississippi military personnel stand to gain significant tax relief from a federal bill that passed the House and Senate unanimously

The legislation provides several tax breaks for soldiers. It includes a deduction for reservists' and National Guard members' travel expenses related to their service.

Sen. Trent Lott said many of those part-time soldiers, who make up the bulk of Mississippi's armed forces, travel long distances for their monthly training.

The amount of that deduction still needs to be determined when the House and Senate reconcile their bills. The House set a $1500 limit on above-the-line deductions, which are available whether or not taxpayers itemize deductions, to cover out-of-pocket expenses for reservists traveling to training.

Meanwhile, Sen. Gerald Dial says he'll introduce a bill to make Alabamians activated for the war in Iraq exempt from state income taxes.

Dial, a Democrat from Lineville and a retired National Guard general, acknowledged the state's current financial crisis but said it is important that legislators show their support for U. S. troops.

The state is facing a $500 million budget shortfall in the current fiscal year. Dial did not say how much his bill would cost the state in lost revenue.