2000 Regular Session

To: Finance

By: Senator(s) Posey

Senate Bill 3143



SECTION 1. This act may be cited as the "Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Program."

SECTION 2. The Mississippi Legislature has found that fish and wildlife resources and the habitats that support them have significant benefit to the state's environment, economy and overall quality of life. The majority of lands suitable for fish and wildlife habitat are held by private owners. The State of Mississippi should encourage these landowners to enhance and restore upland wildlife habitat, wetland wildlife habitat, threatened and endangered species habitat, fisheries habitat and other activities through cost-effective approaches.

SECTION 3. (1) As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed to herein unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

(a) "Application" means a written plan for development and maintenance of the project, including all requirements as the commission may adopt by rule.

(b) "Commission" means the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

(c) "Department" means the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

(d) "State Tax Commission" means the Mississippi State Tax Commission.

(e) "Project" means the habitat enhanced and/or restored by activities for which tax credits are claimed.

(f) "Project cost" means the expenditure for a project not including any expenditure for matching state and/or federal conservation cost-share programs.

(g) "Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Committee" is a committee made up of the directors or their designees of the department, Mississippi Forestry Commission, Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and up to four (4) directors, appointed by the commission, of statewide not-for-profit conservation organizations with expertise in the four (4) areas of habitat development appointed by the commission.

SECTION 4. (1) Tax credits provided by this act shall apply to taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2000, and all taxable years thereafter.

(2) Any taxpayer claiming a tax credit for a project under this act may not claim this tax credit on the same project under another state or federal act.

SECTION 5. (1) The commission is charged with the responsibility of promulgating and administering the rules related to this act.

(2) The proposed rules shall be developed in consultation with the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Committee.

(3) The commission may charge a reasonable application fee, not to exceed One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for the processing of tax credit applications. All fees collected shall be deposited in the Game and Fish Fund.

(4) Length of agreements may be based on cost-share rates; agreements shall be a minimum of three (3) years and a maximum of ten (10) years.

SECTION 6. (1) For any taxpayer, a credit against the taxes imposed pursuant to this act shall be allowed in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of all expenditures up to a maximum of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) made in each tax year by such taxpayer for activities to benefit fish and wildlife.

(2) To claim the benefits of this section, a taxpayer must obtain a certification from the department certifying to the State Tax Commission that the taxpayer has met all the requirements and qualifications set forth in Section 8 of this act.

(3) The amount of tax credit that may be used by a taxpayer for a taxable year may not exceed the lesser of the amount of individual or corporate income tax otherwise due.

(4) Any unused credit may be carried over for a maximum of nine (9) consecutive taxable years following the taxable year in which the credit originated.

(5) The State Tax Commission shall promulgate such rules and regulations as may be deemed necessary to carry out the tax credit provisions of this act.

SECTION 7. (1) The department, in consultation with the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Committee, in developing and prioritizing a list of approved activities, shall attempt to achieve landowner and public purposes. Emphasis shall be placed on low maintenance, self-sustaining activities. The activities shall consist of building structures for fish and wildlife purposes, establishment of habitat by mechanical or other means, maintenance and management practices.

(2) The activities include, but are not limited to, restoration and enhancement practices for:

(a) Upland wildlife habitat;

(b) Wetland wildlife habitat;

(c) Threatened and endangered species habitat;

(d) Fisheries habitat; and

(e) Other activities approved by the department, in consultation with the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Committee.

SECTION 8. (1) A taxpayer wishing to obtain a tax credit shall submit an application to the department.

(2) Upon receipt of the application, the department shall make the application available to the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Committee for review and comment.

(3) After review of the committee's comments, the department may issue tax credit approval certificates for those applications proposing projects that meet the requirements of this act and rules promulgated thereunder.

(4) Upon completion and proper functioning of the project, the department shall issue a certificate of completion.

(5) A taxpayer must file the certificate of tax credit approval with his income tax return for the first year in which the taxpayer claims a tax credit under this act.

(6) A taxpayer must file the certificate of completion with the first tax return filed after issuance of the certificate of completion.

(7) Any taxpayer claiming a tax credit under this act may not claim a tax credit under any other act for any costs related to the same project.

SECTION 9. (1) Project activities shall meet or exceed those standards as established by the commission and the project must be maintained for the duration of the agreement.

(2) Project costs incurred after issuance of a tax credit approval certificate may be claimed for tax credit, subject to limitations in Section 6.

(3) All projects must be completed and properly functioning within two (2) years of the date of the certificate of tax credit approval, except if the department determines that failure to comply with this subsection is the result of conditions beyond the control of the taxpayer, an additional year to comply with this subsection may be granted by the department.

(4) If the taxpayer does not complete the project within the three-year period, all credits claimed must be repaid to the State Tax Commission and the project will be disallowed as a project for tax credit purposes.

(5) (a) If the taxpayer terminates the project prior to expiration of the minimum project life, the taxpayer shall provide written notification to the department and the State Tax Commission. In addition, the taxpayer shall file an amended tax return and repay the amount of tax credit claimed which was not allowable.

(b) If the department determines that the taxpayer has terminated the project, it shall notify the State Tax Commission.

(6) Upon the termination of the project, the taxpayer shall not be allowed any further tax credits provided in this act and the State Tax Commission shall recapture the pro rata share of any tax credits claimed under this act for the period of termination.

(7) The pro rata share for recapture of the disallowed tax credits shall be determined by dividing the period of time from termination of the project until the expiration of the agreement for the project by the required duration of the project times the tax credit claimed.

(8) (a) The taxpayer claiming a credit under this act shall maintain the required records for the required duration of the project plus three (3) years.

(b) The State Tax Commission may make necessary assessments to recapture disallowed tax credits for a period of three (3) years from the date of expiration of the agreement for the project.

SECTION 10. (1) The State Tax Commission shall compile the total amount of tax credits used pursuant to the provisions of this act for each calendar year.

(2) When the total amount of tax credits used pursuant to the provisions of this act exceeds One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00) in any calendar year, the tax credits established by this act shall expire on December 31 of the calendar year following the calendar year in which the tax credits used pursuant to the provisions of this act exceed One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00). However, any taxpayer having been issued a certificate of tax credit approval on or prior to this day may complete the project and shall be entitled to the tax credits provided under this act without regard to the fact that the availability of the tax credits have otherwise expired.

SECTION 11. The provisions of this act shall be codified in Chapter 7 of Title 27, Mississippi Code of 1972.

SECTION 12. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after January 1, 2000.