The Regional Legal Service Office Southeast Detachment Meridian has a staff of one lawyer (staff judge advocate) and one paralegal. The office is available to provide legal assistance to all military personnel, military retirees and their dependents. Though the attorney of the Legal Office may not appear in local civilian courts as attorney of record, he/she may provide legal counsel and guidance, write letters, participate in limited negotiations, and prepare certain legal documents, including simple wills and powers of attorney.
The Legal Office counsels clients concerning such matters as contract disputes, divorce, separation, landlord/tenant matters, debt collection, nonsupport, paternity, automobile accidents, traffic citations, adoption and insurance problems.
As appropriate, the office will provide counsel concerning obtaining the services of a civilian lawyer or legal aid clinic.
In addition, the government provides compensation to military personnel for property losses suffered as a result of their service due to negligent acts by a government employee acting within the scope of his or her employment. Should a military member incur property damage or loss under such circumstances (e.g. damage to household goods shipment or damage from a government car backing into theirs), the Legal Office is available to assist the member in filing a claim for reimbursement.
To ensure complete service, the Legal Office requires "in person" office consultation and cannot provide legal assistance over the telephone.
The following information is frequently of interest to people stationed in Mississippi. However, legal rules and procedures may vary with the specifics of your situation. Contact the Legal Office for more information.
The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act permits military personnel to retain their original legal residence, normally their home of record, throughout their military career, regardless of where the individual may be stationed. While at Meridian, you have the option of retaining your original legal residence or adopting Mississippi as your legal residence for purposes of taxation and voting.
The military family is responsible for complying with all federal income tax and any applicable state income, personal property, real estate, or other taxes. If you claim residency in another state, you do not need to pay Mississippi income tax on your military pay. However, you must pay Mississippi income tax on other income earned in Mississippi, regardless of your state of legal residence.
People owning real estate in Mississippi must pay Mississippi real estate tax regardless of their state of residence.
Military members stationed at Meridian and living in their own home may apply to the county tax assessor for a homestead exemption. This exemption entitles the military member to a reduced real estate tax. However, to be entitled to the exemption, you must declare Mississippi as your legal residence for tax purposes and pay all other state income and personal property taxes.
If a home owner chooses not to claim homestead exemption, the home owner of a single family, owner occupied home can take other action to minimize property taxes. The new home owner should advise the local county tax collector about the purchase of a home. The tax assessor will then ensure that the home is assessed at a 10 percent property tax rate instead of 15 percent normally applied to property.