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Warm bodies and tax laws

MBJ Editorial

We take a look at a number of taxing issues in this issue of the Mississippi Business Journal. An annual editorial focus on CPAs and tax planning gives our writers opportunities to delve into the various local, state and federal tax rules, regulations and situations that Mississippi business and industry must deal with every day.

More often than not, we — and our readers — are left wondering how anyone can find the time just to do business when the paperwork government demands remains so extensive and maddening.

Of course, recent employment data suggests that employment in Mississippi grew in only two sectors this past year, and (not surprisingly) one of those sectors was government. At a time when most businesses are cutting back and running lean — focused on efficiency — government grows. Ideally, those new government workers would be involved directly in such noble pursuits as “serving the people” and “working for the public good.” The prospect of that is, at best, dubious.

But back to those maddening tax problems. One, in particular, MBJ contributing writer Lynne Jeter takes a look at this week. In Mississippi’s state tax code, part of Rule 75 states: “Professional services not directly related to the technical design and programming of computer software are not taxable and may be excluded from the gross taxable income.”

As almost any CPA would tell you, reasonable people could come up with completely different interpretations of that regulation. And unfortunately, they have — and it’s costing Mississippi businesses that are already overburdened with taxes, costs and an economy in recession.

“I’ve been to the Mississippi Economic Council and CIT.ms meetings and they’re wanting technology companies to come to Mississippi,” said James Day, president of Jackson-based Cubla Inc. “They’ll leave. We are one of the very few states that try to charge tax on this kind of service.”

We are sending a mixed-up message to the rest of the world if we work hard to lure high-tech companies to Mississippi and then tax them out of business.

We have enough economic development hurdles in this state; we certainly don’t need bad tax laws, as well.

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