Recently, while most Mississippians were busy working, raising families and just trying to get by, the state of Mississippi held a little noticed hearing to consider imposing taxes on a significantly larger number of our residents. This occurred after the Mississippi Legislature had already left town, leaving no opportunity for our elected officials to publicly debate this important issue at the state Capitol or cast votes on it. Rather, as has unfortunately become a fact of life in our day and age, unelected bureaucrats in a state government agency, with little fanfare and even less explanation, began a process to expand regulations that will require many Mississippians to pay more taxes with minimal public input and even less accountability.
A few months ago, the Mississippi Department of Revenue filed a notice with the Secretary of State’s Office, signaling that DOR would be amending several of its existing regulations. One of these revised regulations would expand the definition of hotels and motels to include rooms in people’s homes, as listed on popular internet websites like Airbnb or VRBO. Another proposed DOR regulation expanded the application of local tourism taxes.
These regulatory changes proposed by DOR come on the heels of another recent attempt by DOR earlier this year to require out-of-state companies to collect taxes on sales made to Mississippians over the internet, despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated this is illegal and DOR’s own commissioner has admitted that what DOR is doing is “probably unconstitutional.”