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Out-of-state tags cut county coffers short

STATE LAW: Traffic moves along West Canal Street.  The sheriff’s department encourages residents to report suspected cases of illegal tags to the department. Photo by Ashley Collins.

STATE LAW: Traffic moves along West Canal Street. The sheriff’s department encourages residents to report suspected cases of illegal tags to the department. Photo by Ashley Collins.

The Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate cases concerning residents illegally displaying out-of-state car tags. The department is currently tracking down violators with the public’s help.

“This is an ongoing issue. Since we can’t pull people over for having an out-of-state tag, we encourage residents to monitor neighbors who might be displaying tags from other states,” Sheriff David Allison said.

The department receives various complaints concerning residents displaying car tags from other states, especially from Louisiana, Allison said.

He encourages residents to report suspected cases of illegal tags to the department. When residents call the department, they should provide detailed information, including the resident’s home address, vehicle description and the state the tag was issued in. Allison said officers use that information to carry out an investigation and determine whether or not the resident is in compliance with state law.

Anyone who lives in the county who currently has an out-of-state tag can register their vehicle with the county by obtaining a Pearl River County tag at a local tax office, Allison said.

Tax Assessor Gary Beech said the state of Mississippi requires vehicles to display proper tags from where it resides four or more days per week.

“The general rule is any car in the county for that time period must be tagged in that county,” Beech said.

Beech said they often find violators through homestead exemptions. When residents file for homestead exemption they’re in compliance with Mississippi’s income tax, county bridge and road laws, which means their vehicle should display a Pearl River County tag. When those residents are convicted for the charge of having an out-of-state car tag, they lose their homestead exemption, Beech said.

Residents with out-of-state car tags not only lose discounts on their property taxes but they also cost the county money.

“A little bit of the money from the car tags goes to the state, school districts and the rest goes to the county, Beech said.

Often, residents purchase out-of-state car tags from Louisiana because they’re cheaper.

“Right now, car tags in Louisiana are cheap and we’re right next door. Louisiana local governments are funded through sales tax, unlike Mississippi, so they don’t have to charge so much for car tags,” Beech said.

Allison encourages residents to send in tips if they suspect someone of having an out-of-state tag. Residents can call the sheriff’s department at (601) 403-2340.