[The Brazil Times nameplate] Mostly Cloudy ~ 72°F  
High: 72°F ~ Low: 50°F
Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Property tax caps heading to Indiana voters for decision

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- State legislators approved a proposal Tuesday that could put property tax limits into Indiana's constitution. Voters will have their say in November.

The state Senate voted 35-15 without debate Tuesday to send the issue to a voter referendum, the last phase in a process started after what many called a property tax crisis in 2007. Bills skyrocketed in much of the state that year because of new assessment rules and other factors, sending hordes of homeowners to the Statehouse demanding reform.

A state law passed in 2008 and fully implemented on Jan. 1 of this year limits property tax bills to 1 percent of homes' assessed value, with 2 percent caps on rental property and 3 percent limits on business property. Both opponents and supporters say putting the caps into the constitution will make them harder to undo in the future.

Indianapolis resident Bruce Muller said he wants the caps in the constitution to help protect him from big, unexpected increases like he saw during the tax crisis, when his property tax bill jumped from a couple of thousand dollars a year to $7,000. Muller, whose home is assessed at more than $300,000, noted his tax bills may still increase with the caps if his assessed value goes up. But he said putting the limits in the constitution would prevent lawmakers from going back on their pledges to fix property tax problems.

"I don't trust the politicians," he said. "After all the brouhaha dies down, they could go back to their old ways."

Many expect voters to overwhelmingly approve the proposal. Sixty-four percent of Indiana residents surveyed in December by Ball State's Bowen Center for Public Affairs favored the constitutional amendment.

But there are plenty of opponents.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Indiana Farm Bureau oppose the caps because they think it's unfair to treat commercial and residential property differently. Many mayors have opposed the caps, pointing out that money saved by taxpayers is less cash for city budgets.

The Chamber hasn't yet decided whether it will launch a public campaign urging people to vote against the caps, Chamber President Kevin Brinegar said.

"We've got to decide whether there's some reasonable chance or whether we're just throwing resources down a rat hole," he said.

Purdue University political science professor James McCann noted that off-year, low-turnout elections typically draw more committed voters who have already made up their minds.

"This issue is already going to be on their radar," he said. "Anybody who has a lot of fire in the belly one way or another for this issue would already be activated."

Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray worries that many voters will think they are simply voting for lower tax bills without understanding the full consequences of the caps. Cities around the state have blamed recent layoffs and other cost cutting measures on reductions in property tax money.

Murray said that because the tax caps were not fully implemented until Jan. 1, lawmakers and others have little data on their true affects. Putting those caps in the constitution will tie the hands of future lawmakers who might need to change Indiana's tax structure more quickly than could be done with the years-long constitutional amendment process.

"It's not just about the short term," Murray said. "It's about making a decision that's wisest for future generations of Hoosiers."

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on thebraziltimes.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

This law is contrary to what our state constitution says. It requires all to be taxed equally. Now the state wants to in effect close the barn door after the horse has left and legalize the wrongdoing that they already put into place.

In addition to being against our constitution and unfairly taxing one type of property over another, it also prevents the adjustment of taxation in some areas that then prevents sufficient revenue for local operating expenses. As has been done already, tax revenue now has to result from sales tax and income tax increases, shifting the burden to those who may not even be able to afford to buy a home due to their low salary already. It also affects investors who have chosen to invest in venues other than real estate as it removes their earned capital via income tax so even when you have a plan in place to remain self sufficient and solvent, these changes remove choices and opportunities in spite of how carefully you plan to invest for you retirement years.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Wed, Jan 20, 2010, at 12:25 PM

what is unfair is asking property owners to take the full burden for services that should be shared by all not just home owners,other states have adopted similiar laws where sales tax is more fair than property tax,after all all money generated goes to the benefit of all citizens,and what is not being said is the poor people with just their heads above water who cant afford high tax rates on their homes,many of them have lost their homes due to real estate tax sales,the time has come to stop making the home owners pay for most of city and county services

-- Posted by dovelw on Thu, Jan 21, 2010, at 10:11 AM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: