Gov. Tate Reeves was asked at a recent news conference whether his plan to phase out the income tax would result in an even larger tax burden being placed on low income Mississippians.
“It’s exactly the opposite,” the governor said. “If everybody pays the same sales tax and nobody pays income tax, then what actually happens is the people who are currently paying a higher percentage of their income pay the same percentage of their income as do those who are currently paying a lower percentage of their income.
“So in other words, if you look at those individuals that have a lower amount of taxable income — if they’re paying 5% of it in income taxes, 7% of it in sales taxes, then that 7% in sales tax is a higher overall percentage of their net income than what the individual who was earning much more and therefore not consuming a 100% of their income. So the analysis is exactly the opposite of what you just laid out.”
In fairness to the governor, explaining tax policy on the fly during a chaotic news conference can be tricky.
Not too long after Reeves gave his thoughts on the fairness of the Mississippi tax system, state economist Corey Miller addressed similar issues during a hearing of a joint House and Senate committee formed to look at the state’s tax structure. Miller, who granted had more time to form and prepare his thoughts, explained to the joint legislative committee that progressive taxes are those that impose a larger levy on the wealthy. Regressive taxes are those where the less wealthy pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes than do the wealthy.