Business personal property tax sparks debate


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Phasing out Indiana’s business personal property tax is a controversial topic statewide, including across the Wabash Valley.

The debate over the bill heated up during the second Cracker Barrel session of 2014. Despite recent changes to the bill resident’s remain concerned.

“What I don’t want to see happen is a state decision made without regard for the local impact,” said Kristi Howe, Director, of the Vigo County Library.

A new set of concerns are being voiced to local legislators surrounding HB1001. Recent amendments no longer make the proposal a state mandate.

“It will give local communities the ability to choose whether or not they want to exempt property tax on business property for new equipment,” said Alan Morrison, State Representative, District 42.

Tax of business equipment generates more than 1 billion dollars for cities and counties statewide.

Opponents believe what they call the “watered down” version of this bill could still do more harm than good.

“It’s an uneven competitive advantage for people who already have a business in your community compared to a new business coming in that may be their competitor,” said Kreg Battles, State Representative, District 45.

Another form of competition also sparked debate, pitting counties against counties.

“We’re going to have little pockets of Indiana that are job wealthy and job intensive, but then we are going to have these pockets that are like Death Valley,” Battles explained.

“Competition is a good thing and we already have counties and regions of Indiana competing against each other. Some have advantages because of infrastructure others because of businesses that are already there,” said Morrison.

Proponents believe it could be a useful tool for counties that have a low percentage of revenue coming from the tax.

“It might be beneficial for them to say to a business ‘hey come to Parke County’ we do have a lot to offer and on top of that we have the ability to exempt new equipment from property tax,” Morrison said.

As uncertainty surrounds the proposal questions remain. HB1001 is now in the Senate.

They have the option of amending the bill as well.

“To see additional changes being made at this time seems a bit premature, like maybe we’ve bitten off more than we can chew,” said Howe.

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