Hancock County, MS | P.O. Box 2267 Bay St. Louis, MS 39521 | 706 Highway 90 | Waveland, Mississippi 39576 | Toll Free: 800.558.1658  | Phone: 228.467.9231 | Fax: 228.467.9341
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Hancock County Industrial Tax Exemption Policy

March 15, 2018



Any project with a capital investment of more than ten million dollars ($10,000,000) or a newly created minimum annual payroll of two and one-half million dollars ($2,500,000) or creating more than two hundred jobs will be individually negotiated.


The following is a narrative outline of proposed tax exemptions as they relate to Hancock County and industry located within Hancock County, Mississippi. This narrative is intended as a clarification of the tax exemption laws and should not in any way be interpreted as affecting the discretionary authority of the governing authorities of Hancock County. In the event of any conflict between this narrative and any law of the State of Mississippi, the law shall, of course, be controlling. Property Tax exemptions may be granted, for up to ten years, on real and personal property taxes, less those taxes not eligible for exemption by law, and less those taxes and/or portions of taxes not eligible for exemption by local policy. Local policy does not allow exemption of community college taxes, 3 mils of road taxes and 5 mils of general county levy; however, each industry granted an exemption must pay not less than a total of 18 mils. If the millage not allowed to be exempt by law and local policy do not equal 18 mils, then the additional millage, if any, shall be added to the county road fund millage. The new enterprises which may be exempt are enumerated as and limited to the following as determined by the State Tax Commission, within the meaning of Section 27-31-101 et seq and related Sections of the Mississippi Code of 1972, as amended. Warehouse and/or distribution centers; Manufacturing, processors and refineries; Research facilities; Corporate regional and national headquarters meeting minimum criteria established by the Department of Economic and Community Development; Movie industry studios meeting minimum criteria established by the Department of Economic and Community Development; Air transportation and maintenance facilities meeting minimum criteria established by the Department of Economic and Community Development; Recreational facilities that impact tourism meeting minimum criteria established by the Department of Economic and Community Development; Telecommunications enterprises meeting minimum criteria established by the Department of Economic and Community Development. The term “telecommunications enterprises” means entities engaged in the creation, display, management, storage, processing, transmission or distribution for compensation of images, text, voice, video or data by wire or by wireless means, or entities engaged in the construction, design, development, manufacture, maintenance or distribution for compensation of devices, products, software or structures used in the above activities. 

Generating investments (including jobs) by the private sector is a priority of the Hancock County Board of Supervisors and the Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission (HCPHC).  In order to expand development options for the County that could offer improved employment opportunities for its citizens, diversify or expand the tax base, promote economic growth, ensure long-term financial ability to provide ongoing quality services and infrastructure, and preserve the quality of life, the County does hereby establish this policy to encourage new industry location decisions within the County and assist existing industrial expansions.

Any and all guidelines in this policy shall be subject to Mississippi State Code. This policy shall sunset after December 31, 2019.


  • Offer tax exemptions equally to all qualified companies based on a company performance standard.
  • The Hancock County Board of Supervisors will offer, at their sole discretion, tax exemptions to new and existing companies in accordance with this policy.
  • The Hancock County Industry Tax Exemption Policy involves a contractual agreement between the County and a new or existing industry. 
  • All recipients must be current in payment of any and all taxes, fees and any other amounts due to the State of Mississippi, Hancock County or any government entity located within Hancock County.
  • Each request for a tax exemption will be evaluated on an individual basis by HCPHC and presented to the Board of Supervisors.
  • Economic conditions may necessitate the County to modify, amend, or even terminate the tax exemption policy as stated, however any modification, amendment or termination shall be subject to compliance with any tax exemptions in effect at that time.
  • All decisions are based on availability of county funds.


  • Real and Personal Ad Valorem Tax exemptions: may be granted for improvements to real property, personal property and inventory to the extent allowed by law, excluding school, community college, road and bridge, and fire taxes.
    • Real Property refers to fixed property, principally land and buildings.
    • Personal Property refers to movable property belongings exclusive of land and buildings.  Personal property tax is based on the same formula as real property.
  • FreePort Warehouse: Mississippi laws allow for licensing of a warehouse to operate as a free port warehouse and be exempted from all ad valorem taxes on inventory being shipped out of state. The Hancock County Board of Supervisors executes the license and approval for the free port warehouse exemptions. The application for license, along with a $10 fee, must be filed with the Hancock County Tax Assessor’s office by March 31. Reports of inventory, which estimate the amount of inventory to be shipped out of state during the year, shall be filed with the tax assessor no later than March 31 of that same year to be eligible for exemption. Reports of inventory movement, showing the actual inventory shipped out of state, shall be filed with the tax assessor by March 31 of the following year and an assessment of the differences will be determined, along with appropriate taxes levied. For further information, please review Sections 27-31-51, 27-31-55, 27-31-57, and 27-31-59 of Mississippi Code of 1972.
  • Other incentives: may be in the form of infrastructure such as streets; environmental testing/site mitigation; clearing, grading and erosion control; water and/or sewer line connections and extensions (negotiated on case-by-case basis).

To speak with someone regarding these exemptions, please contact:

  • Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission (228) 467-9231
  • Jimmie Ladner, Hancock County Tax Assessor (228) 467-4425   
  • Robert L. Dampeer, Director Ad Valorem Division Mississippi State Tax Commission 601-923-7635


  • The tax exemption must be requested prior to the start of the project.
  • An industry meeting these criteria and desiring a tax exemption shall apply in writing.
  • Tax exemptions will be available to new and existing industries.  Existing industries qualify only for that portion of expansion that represents “new” investment.
  • A tax exemption should not be expected to solely or primarily have the effect of merely transferring existing employment from one part of the County to another without demonstration of increased future investment (dollars or jobs) or unusual circumstances whereby without such a move employment is likely to be reduced.
  • No tax exemptions will be granted for modernization projects unless there is a change in use or a change in ownership and the project is not attributable to delayed or deferred maintenance.
  • Personal property that was located on the real property at any time before the period covered by the tax exemption agreement will not be eligible for tax exemption.
  • A report shall be filed by January 1st with HCPHC and Hancock County Tax Office to verify investment, employment, wages rates and payroll, in order to be evaluated for continued eligibility.
  • If personal property should become obsolete and be replaced while under a tax exemption, the replacement personal property is not eligible for tax exemption.


Beginning on or before December 31st of the year which establishes "Base Year Value" for the agreement, and throughout the term of such agreement, the owner/applicant shall annually submit a statement on or before December 31st of each year, which provides the number of existing jobs, dollar amount of payroll, type of equipment (if applicable) and the square footage of qualified facilities. Domicile, payroll and other employment certifications will be submitted on a form provided by the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission and inspected by the CFO, or a local senior management official of the company. The County shall have the right, if it deems necessary, to examine the owner's appropriate records and to renegotiate or adjust the tax exemption based on the verified information provided by owner's statement.


These Guidelines and Policy Statement for Tax exemption approved by HCPHC and the County shall not affect any tax exemption previously approved by the County.


If a project is not completed as specified, or if the terms of the tax exemption agreement are not met, the County has the right to cancel or amend the tax exemption agreement and abated taxes shall become due to the County and other affected taxing units as provided by law. If a project granted a tax exemption ceases to operate or is no longer in conformance with the tax exemption agreement, the agreement shall not be effective for the period of time during which the project is not operating or is not in conformance.  Tax exemptions may take the form of escrow agreements whereby taxes are paid into escrow and then refunded as agreed upon milestones are met.

If the project granted a tax exemption fails or refuses to meet its obligations and commitments under this Agreement, it shall be responsible and obligated to repay to the County the tax exemptions, including the value of in-kind incentives, received from the County. Repayment of these incentives shall be made by the Applicant upon sixty (60) days demand by the County. Repayment of the incentives shall be made on a pro-rata basis based on the percentage of non-compliance by the project.

HCPHC and the County reserve the right to send representatives to inspect the facilities of the applicant during the term of the tax exemption to verify the accuracy of information provided for the tax exemption agreement. Provisions to this effect shall be incorporated into the agreement.

Any person, partnership, organization, corporation or other entity desiring Hancock County to consider providing real or personal property tax exemption shall submit an application to the Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission.  Said application and application process will determined by HCPHC. 

Upon submittal of an application for a tax exemption to the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission, the new industry may accumulate* incentive percentage credit towards an exemption as described in the following table:


For More Info: 14054 Fred & Al Key Road
Kiln, Mississippi 39556 (228) 467-9231
Map14054 Fred & Al Key Road
Kiln, Mississippi 39556
Toll Free: 800.558.1658

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