Pharos-Tribune

Columns

April 23, 2014

KITCHELL: Tax bills show what smoke & mirrors don't

(Continued)

The flawed part of this entire picture is the argument that Indiana’s tax encironment for business is somehow burdensome compared to other states. Yet has anyone made this argument in high-tax metropolitan areas such as Chicago, New York, the Silicon Valley or Washington? Nope, and look at the growth in those areas. Indiana’s economic growth doesn’t come close, and in fact if a blue ribbon commission really wanted to study an intriguing issue, studying the number of Indiana college graduates who accept jobs in states with higher taxes compared to those who take jobs in Indiana and other states with the lowest taxes would be an interesting one.

A case also can be made for saying that the recent business inventory tax cut in Indiana has a greater impact on smaller communities than larger cities where there are more economic incentives, more private capital and greater access to public funding from various resources including federal funding for metropolitan areas.

Unfortunately, there is an element within Indiana that will never be satisfied until the state does away with all its taxes except income and sales taxes and possibly license plate fees. This element abhors property and inventory taxes and wants to give business and industry a free pass on those taxes, even though many new and existing industries already receive tax abatement and other incentives such as county economic development income tax and Tax Increment Financing district taxes.

Yet there are no real tax incentives from Indiana for new home construction that broadens our tax base, an incentive that would put more Hoosiers to work and upgrade housing stock in urban and rural areas.

For now, legislators have succeeded in doing what highly-paid Las Vegas magicians do every night on a stage — use smoke and mirrors to give the allusion that something, somehow, magically disappeared.

It’s time for the smoke from smoke-filled rooms to be cleared from the Indiana General Assembly and for legislators to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves if this is what most Hoosiers really had in mind when they’re asked about “tax reform.” If they ask people in Logansport, can’t be yes.

Dave Kitchell is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at ptnews@pharostribune.com.

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