Property taxes in Indiana is the issue that simply won't go away. In fact, this year's assessments and resulting tax bills, in counties where they have already been mailed, some two-plus months after the normal due date for the spring installment, are literally lighting a fire under taxpayers. Reports of 25% increases amongst residential folk in Marion County in tax bills are not uncommon, with some shooting even higher. There are also unhappy people in other parts of the state.
Don Villwock, president of Indiana Farm Bureau and a farmer and landowner himself, near Edwardsport in Knox County, says this recent sticker shock experience, still to come for counties where assessments and mailing of bills continues to move at a snail's pace, highlight one more time that property taxes do not reflect the taxpayer's ability to pay.
Villwock believes scores of these homeowners, once they open their bills, realize what Farm Bureau has been advocating for years: it's time to get rid of property taxes once and for all. Some three years of fiddling now by the state legislator, governor and courts and assessors have produced nothing but higher bills instead of relief, especially for homeowners, and also for farmers.
Villwock is openly calling for a tax that is based on economic activity instead. That could be a sales tax, which directly reflects the taxpayer's ability to pay. Such a tax is much easier to understand, he notes, would be less expensive to administer and collect and would be administered more equitably across the state. Currently, there are 1,100 different elected assessors in Indiana. That's not the formula for consistent, repeatable tax bills, especially when the laws are ambiguous, at best.
No more short-term fixes, Villwock says. Eliminating the inventory tax was a nice touch, for farmers as well as businesses, but in the end, it simply redirects the burden of who is going to pay the property taxes. As long as schools and other taxing units, including libraries, continue to increase rates, the money must come from somewhere.
Finally, Villwock makes a plea- even if you've never done it before, call your elected officials. Do it now, and don't delay. Villwock hopes you tell them loud and clear that it's time tog et rid of property taxes in Indiana. It's time to look for other sources of funding,
For General Assembly numbers in the House, call 800-382-9842. For Senators, call 800-332-9467.