There are now two commissions considering reforms to the state tax code. One was appointed by the governor, and the other was created by the House Ways & Means Committee. Whatever plans come out of either of these groups, they should be guided by some key principles.

One of those is that the tax base should be as broad as possible. That means getting rid of almost all special exemptions in the tax code for income and sales taxes so that almost all income and almost all purchases are taxed. Doing this would allow the overall tax rates to be lowered significantly, which would benefit all Mississippians, not just those who have powerful lobbyists at the Capitol.

Another principle is simplicity. There should be few rates with few exemptions so that individuals and businesses can understand the tax system, comply with it easily, and have less ability to game the system.

Ultimately, policy makers should honor the basic principle that government has nothing to give anyone except what it first takes from someone else.

If you have ideas about taxes, I’d love to hear them. Go to mspolicy.org and follow the link at the top of the page.

To learn more, go to mspolicy.org.