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Internet sales tax bill in limbo after initially passing

The Mississippi House could be on track to reverse itself and eventually kill a proposed internet sales tax.

House Bill 480 passed the House on Wednesday, despite opposition from some Republicans who said they oppose any new taxes. The bill would enforce sales tax collections for items sold over the internet, and would earmark the money for road and bridge work.

The bill was put on hold for the possibility of more debate. On Thursday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, tried to remove that hold and send the bill to the Senate — but opponents blocked him.

The House has until Feb. 13 to reconsider the bill. If nothing happens by then, the bill will die.

The bill is an effort to formalize the collection of sales taxes from Amazon.com and others that sell goods to Mississippians from outside the state. It would set aside the internet sales tax collections to pay for road and bridge work, with 70 percent going to the state, 15 percent to counties and 15 percent to cities.

College Board researchers estimated in January that Mississippi was losing between $106 million and $123 million in sales tax revenue. Transportation officials say they need at least $500 million to prevent roads from deteriorating. However, many lawmakers refuse to raise fuel taxes, leaving road advocates searching for other revenue.

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