Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, presents to reporters the House's position on their state income tax elimination legislation at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

A House committee passed a bill late Wednesday that would create or expand eight tax credits aimed at helping care for poor families, mothers and children in wake of Mississippi’s ban on abortions.

“This is designed to help newly pregnant ladies and struggling families,” House Ways and Means Chairman Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, told members of his committee. “…Most are existing (tax credit programs) that we are expanding, but a couple are new.”

Lamar said the tax credits, for both businesses and individuals, would be “dollar-for-dollar” for taxpayers who donate to qualified charities, health centers and homes or write off child care or adoption expenses. But some of the programs would limit the credits to 50% of tax liability, and all are capped by total amounts lawmakers allocate to them.

The bill came from House Speaker Philip Gunn’s “Commission on Life,” which was created in June 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on a Mississippi case that overturned Roe vs. Wade abortion rights. Gunn said the ruling would bring “new challenges” for Mississippi to make sure “those who are born have the resources they need.”

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann also created a select committee of lawmakers — who held public hearings in the fall — to help guide post-Roe policies in a state already struggling to provide healthcare. Gunn’s committee, however, has met in private and scant details about its work have been made public.

READ MORE: Six months after Dobbs ruling, the work of Gunn’s ‘Commission on Life’ remains a mystery

Gunn and Lamar co-authored House Bill 1671 and its tax credits. The bill, which now heads to the full House chamber for a vote, would:

  • Create a child care expense tax credit, like the federal one, allowing up to 50% of the amount of the federal income tax credit claimed for individuals and couples making less than $50,000 a year.
  • Increase the total amount of tax credits for those donating to pregnancy resources centers from $3.5 million a year to $10 million.
  • Increase the maximum adoption expense tax credit for families from $5,000 to $10,000.
  • Increase tax credits of up to $400 for an individual and $800 for a couple donating to qualified charitable and foster care organizations to up to 50% of tax liability, including ad valorem taxes.
  • Increase the total tax credits available for the “Mississippi Children’s Promise Act” — donations to qualified charities that help children — from $18 million to $24 million.
  • Create tax credits, up to 50% of a tax liability, for those donating to transitional homes, that help people aging out of foster care, homeless people under 25, homeless families and/or homeless or referred pregnant women.
  • Create new health care tax credits of $3 million for businesses and $1 million for individuals for those those who donate to nonprofits that provide health care to low-income people.
  • Create tax credits totaling $1 million for any nonprofit “purchasing, warehousing and delivering food directly to food pantries or soup kitchens in more than five Mississippi counties on a monthly basis.”

READ MORE: Republicans vowed a robust post-Roe agenda. Here’s how it’s going.

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.