“Miss…..iss…..ipp.....i”, that’s exactly how I learned to spell it ‘way (way, way, way) back when in grade school (or before, I forget when). I still have to “spell it that way, to get it right” even though I know it is “Mississippi”. My maternal grandmother (we called her ‘Granny Jim’) drilled “Miss…..iss…..ipp.....i” into my head over and over again, she was going to make absolutely certain that I could spell each of the various states of our country.
I’m not sure I even knew exactly where “Miss…..iss…..ipp.....i” was when I learned to spell it, although I know we had stayed there overnight once on a road trip to “Flori…..da” (that’s Florida, for those of you that can’t spell like kid.)
One of my fondest memories of Mississippi was of (what then was) the little town of ‘Gulfport’ (right on the Gulf), which I visited several times out of my love for Krispy Kreme donuts. You see we didn’t have Krispy Kreme donuts in Oklahoma and in fact, there were no Krispy Kreme shops west of the “Miss…..iss…..ippi Riv…..er”. I don’t even think there were any Krispy Kreme shops in Louisiana, probably because all the Beignet shops had run them out of the state. Well I would actually drive once or twice a year the 12+ hour trip (each way) from Oklahoma to Gulfport to bring back a car load of Krispy Kremes, and kept up that routine for many years.
It seems that about the same time Hurricane Katrina blew away Gulfport, Krispy Kreme stores finally arrived in Oklahoma City (that’s what I call ‘perfect timing’, for me, not for those who suffered through Katrina.) At this point you are asking yourself, “just how dumb is Murph to drive almost 1400 miles round trip for donuts?” Well if you have to ask then you must never have had the “Heaven with a hole” experience of a fresh off the line, hot Krispy Kreme donut.
Undoubtedly you are ready for me to get past ‘my stories’ and to get to the meat of the matter, so Mississippi has around 3-million residents occupying a little more than 48,000 square miles, that makes the state the 31 most populous and 32 most extensive in land mass within the United States. Today, Jackson, the state’s capital, and Gulfport are the 2 largest cities; however, Jackson is almost 3 times larger than Gulfport. There are 20 more communities within the state having populations between 20,000 and 50,000 residents, these include Hattiesburg, Biloxi, Vicksburg, Tupelo and Greenville.
The area known as Old Biloxi on the Gulf Coast was first founded by French colonists in 1699, and within 20 years they had also founded Natchez on the Mississippi River. During the 18th century much of the area making up Mississippi was ruled by French, Spanish and British colonial governments who often skirmished over specific territorial lands. It was during this time that African slaves were imported as laborers in support of the clearing of heavily forested lands, and riverfront areas, to support the growing agricultural cultivation of cotton. After Great Britain’s victory in the French and Indian War, the French surrendered the area to the British in 1763.
After the American Revolution the area became part of the United States and was then known as the Mississippi Territory. On December 10, 1817, Mississippi became the 20th state admitted to the Union. Soon thereafter more formal ‘plantations’ sprung up, and waterfront communities served as the site for land and riverboat commerce to thrive. In 1830 a large number of Native Americans, including members of the Choctaws, sold their homelands within the territory to the U.S. and agreed to be relocated to the Indian Territory which is now Oklahoma. By 1860, enslaved African Americans represented more than 50% of the state’s total population, working mostly in plantation fields and timberlands.
On January 9, 1861, Mississippi became the 2nd state to declare its secession from the Union and a founding member of the Confederacy. Many battles were fought within the state, including General Grant’s siege of Vicksburg.
Following the war, Mississippi’s first constitutional convention, held in 1868, included both black and white delegates. Ever since the majority of Mississippi’s economy, until recent times, continued to focus on agriculture based within the ‘Delta’ lands whose rich soil was prime for growing almost anything. Even though Mississippi is ranked as one of the poorest states, cotton remains a primary source of the state’s economy, despite the effects of devastating floods, tropical storms, and insect infestation.
But something funny happened on the way to the river; just as in the days of old when gambling up and down the river on steamboats brought wealth (as well as economic losses) to many, so too today. In 1990 Mississippi legalized casino gambling along the River and Gulf Coast and this has brought great gain to the state and residents in terms of jobs. Gulfport, Biloxi and Tunica, Greenville, Vicksburg and Natchez all attract tourists for the purpose of “trying their luck at the tables.” By 2012 gambling was responsible for generating more than 2.25-billion in revenues.
As the overall economy has improved, Mississippi like many other states in the south has also become the home to several manufacturing concerns including automotive plants for both Toyota and Nissan. The once lines of the cotton picker farmlands have given way to the modern assembly lines of some of our most popular vehicles. Unfortunately, the effects of Hurricane Katrina are just now being overcome as it has taken more than 10 years to rebuild and restore much of the infrastructure and manpower resource lost or relocated in the post-storm disaster efforts.
- The Mississippi River is the largest river in the U.S.
- The Teddy Bear, named after President Theodore Roosevelt is said to have been created from an incident in Mississippi when Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear during a hunting trip.
- Famous folks who hail from Mississippi include singer Elvis Presley, football great Walter Payton, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, musician BB King, actor James Earl Jones, boxer Floyd Mayweather, and puppeteer Jim Henson.
- Jackson, Mississippi is one of only four cities in the world to host the International Ballet Competition. The other three are Moscow, Russia; Varna, Bulgaria; and Helsinki, Finland.
- 60% of the farm-raised catfish in the U.S. come from Mississippi.
- Puppeteer Jim Henson was born in Greenville and Kermit the Frog was “born” in Leland.
- The world’s first human lung and heart transplants were conducted at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
About Sales Tax and this Series:
Thanks to Avalara, the 'tax people', this article is one in a 50 part series covering sales tax issues associated with each and every state tax jurisdiction in the United States. We have been publishing a "Sales Tax Tuesday" article (almost) every week this year; and if you haven’t been counting we are getting really close to our ’50 weeks’ by the time you read this.
Sales tax provides critical revenue for states as well as many counties and cities. Other than property and income tax, sales tax is the largest source of tax revenue in the majority of the 46 states that collect it. From a government perspective, making sure every sales tax dollar is collected, through audits, fines, penalties rates and rules, is an exercise for income. It’s easy to be lured into a false sense of compliance when it comes to sales tax, this series is intended to insure that you are aware of the key sales tax facts for YOUR state.
Note: For sales tax definitions and essentials check out the opening article to this series.
Sales Tax Facts
- The state sales tax rate is 7%, but can be as high as 7.25% with local taxes.
- Mississippi imposes a sales tax on the retail sale or lease of tangible personal property. Specific public utilities, amusement admissions, and business services are also subject to sales tax.
- A higher (8%) sales tax rate is charged on food and drinks sold in vending machines.
- A lower rate (1.5 - 5%) rate is charged on the retail sales of farm equipment, cars and trucks, mobile homes and trailers and construction and construction contracting.
- Mississippi is one of two states (the other is Alabama) that imposes sales tax on grocery items (food for home consumption) at the full 7% state sales tax rate.
- While not technically a home rule state, Mississippi only requires local tax collection based on local nexus.
- Mississippi is one of the few origin-based sourcing states. This means that sales tax is based on the location of the seller, not the buyer.
- Mississippi is not a Streamlined Sales Tax (SST) state.
- Mississippi is one of only two states (along with Louisiana) that has a Second Amendment sales tax holiday every September. This is a tax-free shopping period for hunting supplies and equipment, ammunition, and firearms.
- The state also has a sales tax holiday in July for clothing and footwear.
Did You Know?
Hare-raising experience. In Mississippi, rabbit raisers may be subject to “hop-portunity costs” depending on if they eat them or keep them. Feed for rabbits destined for the dinner table is tax-free (exempted as livestock feed). Feed for pet rabbits is subject to sales tax. (Wonder if you can sell the rabbit to yourself for a penny to avoid the tax? Undoubtedly, the answer to such a question is a ‘hare-y” subject.)
Manual sales and use tax management can get pretty “hare-y” because it is prone to errors. (I mean “to feed, or not to feed, that is the sales tax question.) Sales tax collection, accounting, remittance and reporting also consumes valuable staff time in what can only be described as pass-through rather than revenue-generating activities. But there is an easier way, Avalara provides solutions for sales tax automation, including tax calculation, exemption certificate management, returns processing and 1099 filing and reporting. Automation via AvaTax allows businesses to be fully sales tax compliant without sacrificing productivity.