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January 15, 2014

Proponents of erasing business personal property tax up against dry alternative revenue streams.

Proponents of erasing business personal property tax up against dry alternative revenue streams.

(Continued)

State Sen. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, who chairs the House Ways & Means Committee’s budget subcommittee, said he didn’t expect a vote Tuesday on the House Republican proposal, which would allow counties to eliminate the business personal property tax on new businesses.

Even so, a line of mayors waited to testify in committee on House Bill 1001 Tuesday evening.

Over in the Senate, the majority caucus is proposing a measure which exempts small businesses from personal property tax liability if they have less than $25,000 of personal property in a county.

This change is projected to exempt up to 71 percent of business personal property tax filers. In addition to at least partially paying for the cuts by eliminating some current state tax credits, the Senate plan also would create an 11-member Blue Ribbon Commission to study the impact of the business personal property tax on Indiana’s economic competitiveness. This commission would include representatives from state and local government and the business community.

Make no mistake, though: Their goal is to eventually eliminate the business personal property tax and not replace it with what they consider another “onerous” tax.

Ohio is often cited as an example of what Indiana hopes to avoid. The business personal property tax was replaced in Ohio with what Hoosier legislators would call a gross receipts tax — a tax on business revenue, regardless of how much profit a business makes.

But lawmakers say Pence’s suggestion that a tax which brings in $1.1 billion a year in revenue for local governments can be eliminated without shifting some the burden to individuals is hard to imagine.

“At this point, it’s not readily apparent how you could achieve a complete elimination without a replacement source,” Hershman said. “And we’ve got to be cautious. How do we implement a replacement source without causing an undue burden? The solution is not readily apparent right now.”

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