[r82] Rep. Espich pushes tax-friendly legislation through House (2/28/2012)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Start Date: 2/28/2012
End Date: 2/28/2012

STATEHOUSE—Several pieces of legislation sponsored by Rep. Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale) to help Hoosiers deal with various taxing issues, passed out of the House today.

Senate Bill (SB) 98 allows a county to use property taxes and miscellaneous revenue deposited in the county general fund for the maintenance of county highways. Currently law permits property taxes to be used for highway maintenance only in an emergency situation and a vote by the county fiscal body.

“We wanted to allow county officials the flexibility to use revenue from their general fund for road maintenance when needed,” said Rep. Espich.

When SB 98 came through the House, Rep. Espich proposed an amendment to permit a county income tax council to adopt, increase, decrease and rescind a motor vehicle excise surtax and a wheel tax for a county. The amendment passed by consent in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Secondly, SB 142 would allow a taxpayer to have the income capitalization method or the gross rent multiplier method used in the initial assessment of the taxpayer’s property, but the taxpayer must submit the necessary information to the assessor no later than March 1 assessment date.

Similar to SB 98, this legislation was also amended in committee by Rep. Espich. He amended it to delete the filing fee provision, while adding a $50 penalty for failing to appear at a hearing before the county property tax assessment board of appeals concerning the review of an assessment or deduction.

“The state has an obvious problem with the current tax appeal process,” said Rep. Espich. “The current procedure wastes an excessive amount of time and resources, especially considering the amount of backlog the Indiana Board of Tax Review currently has.”

Lastly, SB 144 provides an exemption from the state gross retail tax for tangible personal property acquired for the exclusive purpose of complying with the state tobacco tax laws. More specifically, the bill would change the wholesale price of which tobacco products’ tax is based to make the wholesale price the net price.

Under current law, cigarette distributors are responsible for affixing tax stamps to each cigarette package they distribute in Indiana. They use a stamping machine or a hand-held stamping device to place the stamp on each individual cigarette package.

“Since tobacco distributors are required to stamp their products in order to legally sell them—to comply with state law—companies buy manual or automatic stamping machines. Since the state essentially forces tobacco companies to buy the machines, they should not have to pay sales tax on the equipment.”

Since all three bills were altered before passing out of the House, they will return to the Senate for approval. If approved, they will be sent to the governor’s office for his signature to be signed into law.