Mississippi is used to being the worst state in America. It has one of the most unhealthiest and poorest states in the country, with its public schools chronically underfunded. According to some Republican leaders, phasing out the income tax would be a great way to improve the state’s financial situation.

“There’s no downside to putting money in the pockets of Mississippians,” stated Philip Gunn, Republican House Speaker and one of the principal sponsors of the tax cut bill that is currently being advanced in the Legislature.

Opponents argue that eliminating the income tax would be a bad idea as it would result in less money for schools and roads, and more money for health care and education. This would especially affect working-class and poor residents. The Mississippi income tax is responsible for 34% state revenue. Eliminating the income tax would be a huge financial boost for the wealthy, as they are the ones currently paying the highest taxes.

Democratic state senator Hob Bryan stated that people do not choose where they live based on tax policy, but rather because of their family ties and the quality of life. Hob Bryan said that people choose to live in New York City, which is high-tax, for the opportunities it offers.

Bryan stated that the idea that people from Manhattan would move to Mississippi if they found out Mississippi didn’t have an income tax is laughable.

The population of Mississippi has declined over the past decade while other Sun Belt states have seen an increase in new residents. The tax-cut proposal is a direct attempt to compete with states that do not tax earnings, such as Texas, Florida, and Tennessee — places where many young Mississippians are moving to get better paychecks.

Les and Amanda Jordan, a married couple, live in Summit, Mississippi. He is a retired administrator of public schools and she is a retired nurse practitioner. Both were employed by the state. Amanda Jordan stated that tax rates can influence young people’s choices about where they live. The Jordans have a grandson in Texas (one of the states that does not have an income tax).

Les Jordan stated that he is torn.

He said, “On the first hearing about it — Oh, great, we would have more money.” “On the other side, we’re so poor. What would that do to those less fortunate?

One person in Mississippi pays no tax for the first $12,300 of their income. However, due to tax cuts approved years back, the tax-free amount will rise to $13,300 next year. The state charges a 4% income tax on the first $5,000 and a 5.5% income tax on any income above that.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nine states do not have an income tax, while New Hampshire only taxes interest and dividends. Opponents of the Mississippi income tax repeal point to Republican-led Kansas. Kansas enacted large tax cuts in 2012, 2013 and removed many of them after large and persistent budget deficits.

Mississippi Republican Governor. Tate Reeves supports income tax elimination.

Reeves stated, “We can give the welcome mat to the dreamers and visionaries.” We can increase the amount of money that circulates in our economy. It can also lead to greater wealth for all Mississippians.

The Mississippi House and Senate are controlled by Republicans by large margins. However, the elimination of income tax is not guaranteed. Sentences leaders worried that the proposal would reduce funding for schools and other services led to the death of the proposed bill in 2021.

“People expect us educate our children.” “That’s the future for Mississippi,” stated Republican Lt. Governor. Delbert Hosemann is the Senate’s President. He and other leaders have proposed a separate plan that would reduce but not eliminate the income tax.

Both the Senate and House propose a decrease in Mississippi’s grocery sales tax of 7%. The House would raise the sales tax on all other items than groceries from 7% to 8.5% while the Senate would not.

People with low incomes would feel a greater impact if the sales tax was increased. Eliminating the income tax would not bring any benefit to the poorest residents, who aren’t paying it right now.

According to the Mississippi Department of Revenue people earning less than $100,000 per year account for 14% of state income tax payers. Their payments contribute 56% of income tax revenue. According to the department, people earning less than $30,000 account for 49% of Mississippi’s income tax payers. Their payments contribute 5% to income tax revenue.

Mississippi has a long history of racism, which still manifests in the disparities between struggling and thriving school districts. Each year, legislators continue to underfund the state’s school funding formula by hundreds and millions of dollars.

LaShauna Fortenberry is a former teacher in public schools. She believes that eliminating the state income tax is a bad idea and that increasing the sales tax is a bad idea.

Fortenberry, a Black woman, stated that schools already have outdated textbooks and buildings. Fortenberry said that her brother, who is 18 years older than her, is using the same textbooks as she. How is she able to know this? It has her signature.

Fortenberry is now employed by a Columbia agency that provides in-home senior care. Fortenberry said that she used her own money to purchase classroom supplies from 2005 to 2013. She believes that teachers still do this.

Fortenberry stated that “we need more money in the schools, if any.”

Grover Norquist, president of Americans For Tax Reform (a Washington-based group that labels many taxes “socialist”) said that states that lower their tax rates enjoy economic growth.

At a hearing, Norquist stated that “pretty soon, no one is going to be more then a hop, skip, and a jump from a non-income tax state.” “The question is for Mississippi as well as all other states: Are you going be an early adapter, or are you going be there afterward, catching-up?”