Mississippi homeowners over the age of 65 could get a break on property taxes next year. Lawmakers are examining a bill that would give seniors an exemption.
House Bill 216, which was approved by the Ways and Means Committee yesterday, would hold a retiree’s property at its original value for tax purposes unless the owner makes significant cosmetic changes. The measure has been presented as a way to keep Mississippi's seniors from being taxed out of their homes. Representative Jeff Smith of Columbus is the Committee Chair.
"It would allow reappraisal to not increase the assessed value of people who are retired and have a second exemption, or an over-65 exemption, if they stay in their home and do not enhance the value of the home," says Smith.
There are currently no estimates how much the tax exemption could cost local governments, but opponents like the Mississippi Association of County Supervisors say the measure would limit tax growth for local governments and schools. Despite that, the bill is receiving support from both Republicans and Democrats. Steve Holland is the Representative from Lee County.
"You've always gotten resistance on homestead from supervisors, and their responsibility is such that they should question things like this," Holland says. "But I think this is literally the most novel approach I've seen in my 32 years and I think it's something that we need to let work through the process."
While the measure would exempt seniors from paying taxes on increased property values, it does not prevent municipalities or counties from making changes to their tax rate. The bill will now head to the full House floor for consideration.