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JOHN SCOTT: Carpe Diem — It’s time

John Scott

John Scott

Seize the day! Carpe diem in Latin.

That is what Mississippi’s two SEC schools have done thus far this football season, and it is a terrific story! Regardless of whether you supportState or Ole Miss, it is hard not to be proud of each.

Both schools have put on outstanding performances, and both have been very positively portrayed nationally. To think that State could be No.  1 in the nation (or Ole Miss No. 3) boggles the mind.

However, excellent leadership and a strong vision permeate both programs. Those two traits are essential to any successful endeavor, and our teams are the living proof.

So, what does this have to do with taxes – the usual topic of this column? Well, actually, everything….

Let’s start with Washington.

As has been discussed previously, there are a number of key federal tax law provisions that thousands of Mississippi individuals and businesses rely upon which expired at the end of 2013. These include various individual deductions, plus provisions that allow businesses to write off asset purchases more quickly. Other important items provide tax credits for innovative research being done by myriad Mississippi companies and to encourage hiring of more employees by Mississippi employers.

Not knowing the future of these provisions makes it more difficult to plan expansions and hiring.

If the politicians in Washington on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue had the same level of leadership and vision around growing our economy and stimulating employment that Dan Mullen and Hugh Freeze are showing in creating championship caliber football programs, the economy would be growing exponentially and there would be full employment.  They would seize the day.

Instead, both political sides have stated that there may not even be a deal on these matters after the election.  If that is the case, a new Congress in 2015 would have to re-introduce and re-pass all these provisions from scratch and make them retroactive to the beginning of 2014 – 13 or 14 months late.

This is the height of irresponsibility, and most definitely not in the spirit of carpe diem.

So, let’s contrast this with Jackson.

The state has filled its rainy day fund. Revenue projections are running ahead of budget. Now, through the leadership of Gov. Bryant, Lt. Gov. Reeves and Speaker (Philip) Gunn, our elected officials are looking at ways to return tax dollars to hard-working Mississippians.

A tax cut, particularly targeted at lower-income wage earners and self-employed workers, is under consideration. This could most easily be accomplished through an increase in the standard deduction up to certain income levels.  Or, if properly designed, the Democrat proposal to reduce the sales tax rate on groceries could be appealing.

In any event, these ideas are currently being studied proactively for the 2015 Legislative Session, as they should be. That is leadership and vision.

Seize the day! We get it around here.  It must be a Mississippi thing – just like the top of the football polls.

 

» John Scott, CPA, is a tax partner at HORNE LLP and has more than 25 years of public accounting.

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