Relocation tax credit bill back for another try

by Clay Chandler

Published: February 1,2013

Tags: Delbert Hosemann, Jeff Smith, Kirk Fordice, state legislature, tax credits

The Legislature 2011 Session

One of the pieces of Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s 2013 legislative agenda is a repeat from last year.

A bill that would have extended tax credits to corporations that move their national or regional headquarters to Mississippi died in a Senate committee last year.

Two bills that would do the same thing currently sit in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Each would offer companies relocating their headquarters here a tax credit that equaled whatever they spent on moving expenses. Terms of the legislation would require a minimum of 20 new jobs be created by the move. Hosemann said in a recent interview that the bill targets specific areas of the state he says are ripe to land such a project.

“Our set asides are hopefully to get a corporate headquarters to come to one of our metropolitan areas — Tupelo, Jackson, Hattiesburg, the Coast. The biggest expense we saw that (prospects) didn’t have were the moving expenses. This allows us to pay for some of their moving expenses to a new location.”

Hosemann said a handful of states have similar credits, including Tennessee, a state with which Mississippi is often in direct competition for large economic development projects.

The amount of credits the state could issue in a fiscal year could not exceed $1 million. Companies could not take advantage of the credit for relocating the same employee more than one time in a 12-month period.

Ways and Means chairman Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, authored one of the bills that sit in his committee.

“This is something a lot of economic development people have pushed for, including the MDA,” he said, referring to the Mississippi Development Authority.

Smith said the need for a relocation tax credit goes back to the 1990s, when former Gov. Kirk Fordice tried unsuccessfully to convince Weyerheuser to move its corporate headquarters to Mississippi.

“We’ve got parts of this state that could really use this as part of their pitch to companies,” Smith said.

With exceptions like the phasing out of the inventory tax, tax credits of any kind did not fare well last year if and when they made it to the Senate. Some of Hosemann’s various bills that offered tax credits — including the headquarters relocation credit — died there.

Smith said last week he was unsure how similar legislation would be treated this year. “I just don’t know who’s going to be on board and who’s not,” he said. “As for my committee, we look pretty good. We should at least get them to the Senate.”

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