Mississippi’s property tax system barely gets a passing grade

GROWING AND GROWING: Mississippi’s budget has continued to grow even with the GOP controlling both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion.

By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog

Mississippi’s property tax rates are low, but its administration leaves a lot to be desired.

Mississippi’s property tax system received a barely passing grade in a study by the Council on State Taxation, a nonprofit trade association of multistate corporations.

The state received a C in the organization’s latest scorecard, “The Best and Worst of International Property Tax Administration.”

The study grades on transparency, simplicity, consistency and procedural fairness. Mississippi received a grade of C in all three categories.

At least there’s something to be said for consistency.

Mississippi’s grade in procedure fairness suffered most when it came to appeals and the burden of proof, where the state received an F. In many states, taxpayers have 60 days to file an appeal, but in Mississippi that amount varies from 10 to 20 days. In the case of an appeal, state law requires two competent witnesses to testify a property is assessed at a higher rate than its true value.

The state was also dinged for its widely varying assessments by property type, which have no assessment caps, and a minimal amount of exemptions, which don’t include business equipment.

Mississippi received A grades for its de novo appeal process (in the circuit court) and consistent due dates (all taxes are due April 1) and B grades for the state department of revenue’s property tax information website.

At least Mississippi’s rates are low, the 43rd lowest in the nation according to Tax Rates.org. The majority of communities in the state are dependent on revenue from property taxes, with more than 92 percent of their revenues coming from the tax. Both cities and counties can levy property taxes.

Mississippi’s neighbors didn’t score much better. Alabama scored a C-minus, the eighth worst grade in the nation. Arkansas and Louisiana both earned a grade of C. Tennessee rated a C-plus.

Oregon rated the highest grade in the scorecard with a B-plus. Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada and Rhode Island tied for last with grades of D-plus.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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