Tax Assessors, Collectors Push for Tax Relief

The Mississippi Association of tax Assessors and Collectors is pushing for lawmakers to pass a bill to help elderly and disabled homeowners.

Proposed legislation would give the elderly and disabled a bigger tax break on their home property taxes. It calls for an increase in the homestead exemption limit for assessed value. It would increase that limit from $7500 to $10,000. The measure passed in the Senate recently but then died in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Lauderdale County Tax Assessor Jimmy Slay is one of a number of tax assessors and collectors from around the state who is pushing to get this measure revived in the House.

"I tell you when other counties go through reappraisals like we did, those people are going to be screaming and hollering to increase their homestead exemption level," said Slay.

Last year the periodic reappraisals were done in Lauderdale County. Once in effect, Slay says they began to take a toll.

"I had an 84-year-old widow who is on Social Security. That's her only source of revenue," said Slay. "Her tax bill went from $0 to almost $400. If this had been passed last year she would not have owed nothing in taxes this time."

One of the major opponents of the legislation is the Mississippi Association of Supervisors. Derrick Surrette, executive director of the group, says although the group definitely supports additional tax breaks for people over 65 or the disabled, members have serious issues with the way that the current bill is written. He said it would ultimately cause an increase in taxes on car tags and for the working class in most counties.

Slay says he disagrees with concerns that the legislation would cause counties to lose revenue.

"There's no way they're going to lose revenue," said Slay. "They may have to adjust the millage rate but they're not going to lose revenue."

The regular session of the Mississippi Legislature is set to end Apr. 5.


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