2007 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Posey
AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE AN INCOME TAX CREDIT FOR LANDOWNERS IN THE AMOUNT OF 50% OF ALL EXPENDITURES BY SUCH TAXPAYER FOR ACTIVITIES TO BENEFIT FISH AND WILDLIFE THAT QUALIFY UNDER THIS ACT DURING THE TAXABLE YEAR, NOT TO EXCEED THE LESSER OF $10,000.00 OR THE AMOUNT OF TAX IMPOSED UPON THE TAXPAYER FOR THE TAXABLE YEAR; TO CREATE THE MISSISSIPPI FISH AND WILDLIFE INCENTIVES COMMITTEE TO ASSIST THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE FISHERIES AND PARKS IN DEVELOPING AND PRIORITIZING A LIST OF APPROVED ACTIVITIES AND TO REVIEW AND COMMENT UPON APPLICATIONS FOR THE TAX CREDIT; TO PROVIDE THE TYPES OF ACTIVITIES FOR WHICH THE TAX CREDIT IS AVAILABLE; TO PROVIDE THAT TAXPAYERS SHALL APPLY TO THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE, FISHERIES AND PARKS FOR THE CREDIT AND THAT THE DEPARTMENT SHALL ISSUE CERTIFICATES OF APPROVAL FOR THE TAX CREDIT AND CERTIFICATES OF COMPLETION FOR THE APPROVED PROJECT; TO PROVIDE THAT THE CERTIFICATES MUST BE FILED WITH THE TAXPAYER'S TAX RETURN; TO PROVIDE THE STANDARDS THAT PROJECTS MUST MEET IN ORDER TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE CREDIT; TO AUTHORIZE RECOVERY OF THE CREDIT OR A PORTION THEREOF UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES; TO PLACE LIMITATIONS ON THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF CREDITS THAT MAY BE ISSUED IN ANY CALENDAR YEAR; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This Act may be cited as the "Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Program."
SECTION 2. The Mississippi Legislature finds that fish and wildlife resources and the habitats that support them have a significant benefit to the State's environment, economy and overall quality of life and that the majority of lands suitable for fish and wildlife habitat are held by private owners. The purpose of this act is to encourage landowners to enhance and restore upland wildlife habitat, wetland wildlife habitat, threatened and endangered species habitat and fisheries habitat through cost-effective approaches.
SECTION 3. As used in this act:
(a) "Commission" means the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
(b) "Project" means the habitat enhanced and/or restored by activities for which tax credits are claimed.
(c) "Project cost" means the expenditure for a project not including any expenditure for matching state and/or federal conservation cost-share programs.
SECTION 4. (1) Tax credits provided by this act shall apply to taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2007.
(2) Any taxpayer claiming a tax credit for a project under this act may not claim other tax credits on the same project under another state or federal act.
SECTION 5. (1) There is hereby created the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Committee which shall be composed as follows:
(a) The Director of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, or his designee;
(b) The Director of the Mississippi Forestry Commission, or his designee;
(c) The Director of the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, or his designee;
(d) The Director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, or his designee; and
(e) Three (3) directors of not-for-profit conservation organizations with expertise in the four (4) areas of habitat development, or their designees, appointed by the commission.
(2) The commission may appoint not more than two (2) members from the following federal agencies:
(a) The United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service;
(b) The United States Department of Agriculture's Farm Services Agency;
(c) The United States Department of Agriculture's Forest Service; and
(d) The United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
(3) The committee shall:
(a) Assist the commission in developing and prioritizing a list of approved activities;
(b) Review and comment upon applications made available by the commission; and
(c) Perform such other duties as are required by this act.
SECTION 6. (1) The commission shall promulgate rules and regulations for the administration of this act. The rules shall be developed in consultation with the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Committee.
(2) Length of agreements under this act may be based on cost-share rates and agreements shall be for a minimum of three (3) years and a maximum of ten (10) years.
SECTION 7. (1) For any taxpayer, a credit against the taxes imposed pursuant to Chapter 7, Title 27, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall be allowed in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of all expenditures by such taxpayer for activities to benefit fish and wildlife that qualify under this act during the taxable year, not to exceed the lesser of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) or the amount of tax imposed upon the taxpayer for the taxable year reduced by the sum or all other credits allowable to the taxpayer under Chapter 7, Title 27, Mississippi Code of 1972, except for credit for tax payments made by or on behalf of the taxpayer.
(2) To claim the credits authorized by this section, a taxpayer shall obtain a certification from the commission certifying to the State Tax Commission that the taxpayer has met all the requirements and qualifications set forth in Section 9 of this act.
(3) Any tax credit claimed under this act but not used in any taxable year may be carried forward for two (2) consecutive taxable years.
(4) The State Tax Commission shall promulgate such rules and regulations as it considers necessary to carry out the tax credit provisions of this act.
SECTION 8. (1) The commission shall consult with the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Committee in developing and prioritizing a list of approved activities and in developing such list 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 shall include, but not be limited to:
(a) Upland Wildlife Habitat: planting field borders and filter strips to grass/legume mixtures; establishing openings; planting, fertilizing, and seedbed preparation for food, cover and nesting; establishing native prairie and grassland; fencing for habitat protection; prescribed burning, strip disking and mowing; flushing bars; restoration of wildlife habitat and corridors; and forest stand improvement to include site preparation, tree planting, direct seeding, firebreaks, release and site preparation for natural regeneration.
(b) Wetland Wildlife Habitat: installation of water control structures in agricultural fields, moist soil areas and forested wetlands to provide beneficial habitat for wetland wildlife; application of water on agricultural fields, moist soil areas and forested wetlands during drought conditions to benefit wetland wildlife; restoration of hydrology; restoration of wildlife habitat and corridors; fencing for habitat protection; forest stand improvement to include site preparation, tree planting, direct seeding, firebreaks, release and site preparation for natural regeneration; strip disking and mowing; establishing openings; and planting, fertilizing and seedbed preparation for food, cover and nesting.
(c) Threatened and Endangered Species Habitat: removal of barriers for aquatic species; establishment, management, maintenance, enhancement and restoration of grassed waterways and riparian areas; fencing for habitat protection; stream bank stabilization; installation of instream deflectors; restoration of threatened and endangered species habitat and corridors; placement of fish screens; control or eradication of invasive exotic or competing animal and plant species; and forest stand improvement to include site preparation, tree planting, direct seeding, firebreaks, release and site preparation for natural regeneration.
(d) Fisheries Habitat: removal of fish barriers; establishment, management, maintenance, enhancement and restoration of grassed waterways and riparian areas; stream bank stabilization; installation of low-water weirs and instream deflectors; fencing for habitat protection; development and placement of fish structure and gravel spawning beds; and augmentation of flows.
(e) Other activities approved by the commission, in consultation with the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Committee.
SECTION 9. (1) A taxpayer wishing to obtain a tax credit shall submit an application accompanied by an application fee to the commission. The application fee shall be an amount set by the commission not to exceed One Hundred Dollars ($100.00).
(2) Upon receipt of the application, the commission shall make the application available to the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Committee for its review and comment.
(3) After review of the comments of the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Incentives Committee, the commission may issue a tax credit approval certificate 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 commission shall issue a certificate of completion to the taxpayer.
(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 provision of law for any costs related to the same project.
SECTION 10. (1) (a) Project activities shall meet or exceed those standards as established by the commission and the project must be maintained for the period of time that the commission specifies in an agreement with the taxpayer.
(b) Project costs incurred after issuance of a tax credit approval certificate may be claimed for tax credit, subject to limitations in Section 7 of this act.
(c) All projects must be completed and properly functioning within two (2) years of the date of the certificate of tax credit approval, unless the commission determines that failure to comply with this subsection is the result of conditions beyond the control of the taxpayer, in which case the commission may grant the taxpayer an additional year to comply with this subsection.
(d) If the taxpayer does not complete the project within the allowable time 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.
(2) (a) If the taxpayer terminates the project prior to expiration of the minimum project life, the taxpayer shall provide written notification to the commission and the State Tax Commission and shall file an amended tax return and repay the amount of tax credit claimed which was not allowable.
(b) If the commission determines that the taxpayer has terminated the project, it shall notify the State Tax Commission.
(c) Upon the termination of the project prior to the expiration of the minimum project life, 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. 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.
(3) The taxpayer claiming a credit under this act shall maintain the records required by this act and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder for the required duration of the project and for three (3) years thereafter.
SECTION 11. (1) The State Tax Commission shall compile a list of 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 utilized pursuant to the provisions of this act exceeds One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00) in any calendar year, the State Tax Commission shall notify the commission and the commission shall cease issuing approval certificates; however, any taxpayer who has been issued a certificate of tax credit approval on or prior to the notification of the commission may complete the project and shall be entitled to the tax credits provided under this act.
SECTION 12. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after January 1, 2007.