How Cyber Monday purchases can have a local impact on infrastructure

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 7:31 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Your online shopping cart this Cyber Monday could ultimately mean a smoother ride on the roads in your hometown.

A few years back, you didn’t have to pay a state sales tax for online purchases from sites like Amazon. That changed in 2018. And lawmakers determined they’d divert 35% of those internet sales tax collections to cities and counties. It was to then be divvied up in this way: 15% to cities – 15% to counties – 5% to the Local System Bridge Program.

“It is a direct impact on the roads that they ride on,” said Brandon Mayor Butch Lee. “It’s dedicated to infrastructure and is sorely needed, and we need more of it is not enough, but it sure helps move the ball down the field.”

The city of Brandon has brought in more than expected through what’s known as the “use tax.” And they’ve been able to pave more than 20 miles of city streets in recent years because of it.

“We dedicated those dollars to those projects,” noted Lee. “And we’re gonna continue to do that. Just as quickly as we can, municipalities, especially ones like Brandon, are 200 years old. There’s always a need for water and sewer and streets and asphalt. So it will help us in that regard for years to come.”

Mississippi Municipal League President and Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons says his city needed the cash flow, particularly since they saw some other revenues drop amid the pandemic.

“Here in the City of Greenville, our last check we received was in July of 2021 of $459,000,” explained Simmons. “The total amount of money we received here in the City of Greenville is about 1.1 million, and it’s going straight to our coffers and our general fund to be phased into some of our infrastructure projects that we’re doing.”

But cities and counties aren’t seeing the full effects just yet.

“Use tax is only 50% phased in,” described Derrick Surrette, Mississippi Association of Supervisors Executive Director. “In January, it will be 75% phased in. And in the next year, it’ll be 100%. So we are very grateful that the legislators saw the need that once a use tax was legal, that a portion of it would go to counties.”

The Mississippi Association of Supervisors points out that from a practical standpoint for most counties, it’s less of an addition and more of plugging a hole.

“Fuel tax is decreasing,’ noted Surrette. “Use tax is helping, but it’s not filling in the complete gap.”

These collections don’t apply to ALL internet purchases. If the retailer is out-of-state and doesn’t have a physical presence in the state — the state can’t require them to collect Mississippi’s tax. But as of July 1, 2018--out of state businesses that do 250-thousand dollars or more of business in Mississippi ARE required to collect that tax.

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