JACKSON – The Department of Revenue collected eight times more in additional delinquent taxes than it promised during the past fiscal year in return for the Legislature providing $3.5 million to hire extra staff.
During the 2012 session, the Legislature appropriated the extra money to hire 44 auditors and revenue officers. For the additional funds, Tax Commissioner Johnny Morgan said the agency could generate at least $10 million more in delinquent taxes than in the previous year.
Department of Revenue spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury said, “We collected $10 million over the prior year: eight times – $80,861,260 more in delinquent tax collections than for FY12. The results were verified by PEER.”
PEER is the Legislature’s Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Committee.
House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville, said the task for legislative leaders as they begin work later this month in deciding how much to appropriate for the upcoming fiscal year is determining if the Department of
Revenue can continue to be so successful in collecting delinquent taxes.
“How much of that can we count on every year?” asked Frierson, who is a member of the Legislative Budget Committee that will begin work this month on developing a budget proposal for the 2014 Legislature.
During the recently completed fiscal year, the state collected a record $5.12 billion in revenue. Included in that amount, according to Waterbury, was $190.3 million in back taxes.
The back taxes collected included $67.8 million in corporate income taxes, $51.4 million in general income taxes and $61.5 million in sales taxes.
The Department of Revenue budget for the current fiscal year is $40.2 million – up 2.6 percent from Fiscal Year 2013 and up $3.5 million from two years ago – prior to when the new staff was hired.
While the effort means much needed additional money for the state, at a recent House Appropriations Committee meeting Rep. John Read, R-Gautier, pointed out the additional work to collect back taxes does have its drawbacks. He said he has received complaints from constituents who have been contacted by the Department of Revenue delinquent tax personnel.
“You are going to hear complaints,” he told fellow House members.