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Indiana Flexes Political Muscle at Statehouse

Bob Kraft

Indiana Farm Bureau is no stranger to property tax fights in the state legislature. There many been times that they have been on the losing end of those battles, but that is not the case this year. Last week, both House and Senate committees took up legislation that would place a moratorium on a new soil fertility factor used to assess the value of farmland. As Farm Bureau’s Bob Kraft explained, they were right in the middle of this issue, “Farm Bureau tax specialist Katrina Hall testified before both the House and Senate committees.” The bill also requires the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) to submit a report explaining any changes it recommends to the General Assembly for approval before they can they be implemented. The Senate bill was amended in committee; the amendment added to the bill by the committee requires Purdue to be involved in any studies undertaken by DLGF.


The bills (SB 319 and HB 1114) will save farmers thousands of dollars on their property tax bills. Kraft says Farm Bureau worked closely with a number of key lawmakers to get these bill moving, “We want to thank several key sponsors on the Senate side, Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg), Senator John Waterman (R- Sullivan), and Senator Greg Wakler (R-Columbus). In the House, Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield).”  Rep. Cherry was joined in presenting the bill by Rep. Don Lehe (R-Brookston), who also introduced an identical bill in the House.  The Governor and Lt Governor have expressed strong support for the legislation, virtually assuring its adoption.


Kraft says another key piece of legislation Farm Bureau supports deals with depreciations of personal property, “Senate bill 375 will lower the floor on the taxable value of personal property from 30% to 20%.” This means that personal property can be depreciated down to its 20% level. This bill is before the tax and finance committee.


In other State House action, the House Ways and Means Committee approved HB 1007 (Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte) that would require online vendors with a physical presence in Indiana to begin collecting state sales tax from Indiana residents on July 1, 2013, rather than January 1, 2014.  It is estimated that this six-month acceleration would raise anywhere from $75 million to $150 million per year for state coffers by collecting a tax already owed by those buying from online retailers such as Amazon.com.  Kraft said this will allow main street businesses to compete with on-line businesses on a equal basis.


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