Yet another bill attempting to swap a property tax reduction for a sales tax increase is working its way through a state legislature, this time in Indiana. Low-income Hoosiers can expect to lose out not only because of the regressive sales tax hike (from 6% to 7%). They will also find the distribution of $700 million in property tax credits completely divorced from need-based considerations. Further, the expansion of property tax caps (deceptively labeled "circuit breakers") will inevitably create inequities akin to those running rampant in Florida. The bill also caps the taxes that can be levied by Indiana localities in a manner that does not adequately take account of the rising cost of providing public services.
In an effort to offset the myriad regressive implications of the bill, the Indiana legislature also expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and provided some income tax relief to renters. But these comparatively minor steps will not be enough to offset the harm done to low-income Hoosiers. A recent report released by the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development includes a number of recommendations for reforming Indiana's tax system, most of which are not addressed by the current bill.