[r82] Chairman Espich helps to protect the Hoosier Taxpayer (3/30/2011)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Start Date: 3/30/2011 All Day
End Date: 3/30/2011

House Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Espich's (R-Uniondale) legislation to help protect taxpayer rights passed out of the House today with a 96-1 vote.

"In a trying economy, we need to do all we can to protect the Hoosier taxpayer, in addition to making local government more efficient," said Chairman Espich. "I believe it is fair to give taxpayers the knowledge of where their tax dollars are being spent; what tax credits are available; and, more importantly, they should know they have options if a tax official error occurs."

House Bill 1484 includes the following:

¨Property Tax Credit Appeals: Under current law, a taxpayer may file a petition to correct errors on their tax bill; if there was a mathematical error in the assessment; or the taxpayer was not given tax credit through a tax official's error.

House Bill 1484 would include in that list "an error correction of a circuit breaker credit or any other type of credit that is incorrect because of a tax official's error." Any correction of a credit under this bill would require approval from at least two of the following officials: township assessor, county assessor or county auditor.

¨Local option income tax (LOIT): Currently, revenue generated from a property tax relief LOIT must be used to provide homestead credits; property tax replacement credits for residential property owners; property tax replacement credits for all taxpayers; or any combination of the three.

Under this bill, if any excess property tax relief LOIT revenue remains after the payment of all credits in the year, the excess amount must be placed in a dedicated account to be used to provide credits in subsequent years.

¨Referendum Taxes: The DLGF would be required to approve the language to be included on the ballot for a referendum concerning a capital project of a political subdivision or a referendum for an additional school operating levy.

The unit's name, estimated project cost, estimated tax rate increase and project description would be required to be included in the question. The DLGF would then determine if the question includes accurate information and is not biased. Once approved, the county election board would place the approved language on the ballot.

Currently, the ballot question is not required to be reviewed by the DLGF.

¨Annual Reports: The bill would prohibit the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) from approving any local budget appropriation for a governmental entity until that entity files an annual fiscal report for the preceding year. Additionally, appropriations would not be approved for counties, cities, towns and townships until a compensation report was filed.

"Without an appropriation, the entity could not spend any money. This provision would encourage timelier reporting from some governmental entities," said Chairman Espich.

House Bill 1484 will now head to the Senate for further debate.