Taxing Outsiders in Mississippi
10 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2011 Last revised: 29 Jul 2011
Date Written: June 24, 2002
Mississippi began levying sales taxes and other taxes that discriminated fiercely against political outsiders in 1822. Designed to protect local businesses, the higher taxes targeted peddlers, auctioneers, and other traveling vendors in the early 19th century. After the Civil War, the targets changed as retailing changed, to include itinerant vendors of all types, including gypsy bands, fortune tellers, patent medicine salesmen, out-of-state trappers, and employment agents offering out-of-state jobs. In the 20th century, transient vendors bearing higher taxes did NOT include vendors needed by Mississippi businesses (such as business-to-business salesmen) but did include double taxes on chain stores until the courts stopped it. In the 21st century, Mississippi has helped lead the fight against the Internet Tax Freedom Act, so that it could tax sales by internet vendors from other states as heavily as it taxes vendors who have a physical presence in Mississippi. The state’s nearly 2'02year tradition of protecting local businesses by heavy taxation of political outsiders is costly to Mississippi consumers but protects the politicians from voter retaliation.
Keywords: Mississippi, taxation, history of taxation, sales tax, tax policy
JEL Classification: H20, H25, H71, N41, N42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation