Challenges of Change... You Got That Right

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As we've told you in past Digests, some Indiana taxpayers are threatening a revolt over property taxes. Rather than considering constructive reforms to the property tax, some anti-tax zealots are using the current situation as a reason to call for its outright elimination. Last week members of the Commission on State Tax and Financing Policy heard about the impact that property tax repeal would have on the state. The Legislative Services Agency (LSA) rightly titled their presentation "Challenges of Change."

The LSA estimates that in order to replace the $6.1 billion Indiana property taxes currently bring in, lawmakers would have to either increase the state income tax rate from 3.4 to 9 percent, or hike the sales tax rate from 6 percent to a whopping 13.2 percent. The LSA's presentation shows that repealing all Indiana property taxes would be prohibitively expensive. While Indianans' angst over their rising property tax bills is understandable--property taxes are regressive, and are often not based on a homeowner's ability to pay them-- enacting targeted property tax reforms such as a low-income "circuit breaker" credit would allow local governments to retain this important revenue source, and would make Indiana property taxes less unfair without requiring a double-digit sales tax to pay for it.

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