Homestead Exemption and Property Taxes

Property taxes in Mississippi could be on the rise due to a steady downward spiral in reimbursements from the state to counties for homestead exemption.

The law requires the state to reimburse counties $100 for each homestead exemption application that is approved. However, that has not been happening.

"The fact is that homestead reimbursements have suffered for several years now," said Lauderdale County tax assessor Jimmy Slay.

"Normally, we get about $84.1 million," said Steve Gray of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors. "We were hit; it dropped to down to about $75.1 million. We're looking at $7.9 million for 2010."

This means that counties in Mississippi could be forced to make up the difference by raising taxes.

"It depends on the county and how the county can absorb the hit. Each county is different so you don't just ever know."

As with other counties, exactly what will happen is yet to be seen.

"It all filters down to the taxpayers of Lauderdale County," said Slay. "If the county does not get that reimbursement, that revenue is going to have to be made up some way and that's going to have to be done by increased taxes."

Ultimately it is up to supervisors in each county to decide whether or not property taxes increase.

In recent years, to help counties cope with the lagging reimbursements, officials with the supervisors association say the state has approved bonding for road and bridge projects. This in turn has helped counties generate money.

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