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Commission begins scrutiny of state's system of taxation

The Tax Study Commission appointed by Gov. Haley Barbour held its first meeting last week, the first step in a process designed to take a long look at Mississippi’s tax code and see what can be done to improve it.

The 37 members will meet once a month with a deadline of August 31 to provide an initial report.

During his State of the State Address in January, Barbour said his ultimate goal is to implement a tax cut.

Forest Thigpen of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy is a commissioner who shares that goal.

“Even if we can’t enact everything we need to do right away, we need to know what the structure is that we should be targeting,” Thigpen said. “Right now, nobody else knows what anybody thinks.” Thigpen said the Commission’s first meeting was spent hearing from tax-related. The first few meetings will be spent gathering information before commissioners will break into committees, Thigpen said.

“We need to develop an appropriate tax policy so that everybody is paying something and so everybody pays attention to our government because they have a stake in what’s going on,” Thigpen said. “Developing a policy that is attractive to potential businesses and helps to keep existing businesses is a personal goal.”

The Commission is made up of public and private leaders who represent a number of professions — current and former lawmakers, accountants, attorneys, business leaders, professors, mayors, county supervisors and heads of policy groups and trade associations.

“These individuals represent a wide range of expertise in this important subject matter — they come from business, legal, academic and legislative backgrounds,” Barbour said in a statement. “They also share a common bond in that they are Mississippi taxpayers. I appreciate their voluntary service on this commission and know they will do an excellent and thorough job in carrying out this study.”

Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee serves on the Commission. He said last week that his primary goal is to ensure stability for cities like his.

“I want to be sure we do everything we can to protect the municipalities,” McGee said. “And we need to do that as efficiently as we can.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Clay Chandler at clay.chandler@ msbusiness.com .

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