Monday, January 7, 2013

Indianapolis Councilors Propose 67% and 50% Increases in Local Taxes

Saw this coming a mile away.

Councilor Mike McQuillen
Tonight two measures to increase taxes will be introduced tonight at the Indianapolis City-County Council meeting.  Resolution 23, 2013, sponsored by Republican minority leader Mike McQuillen and Democratic majority leader Vern Brown would increase the county admissions tax to ALL events held at Capital Improvement Board run facilities by 67% by raising the tax from 6% to 10%  This represents a 100% increase since 2005 when the admissions tax was 5%.

Resolution 24, 2013, is even more objectionable.  Also sponsored by McQuillen and Brown, the proposed ordinance will raise rental car taxes from 4% to 6%, a 50% increase. This represents a 200% increase since 2005 when the rental car tax was 2%.

The admissions and rental car taxes are often disingenuously referred to as "visitor taxes," i.e. taxes that don't hit local folks as much as they hit visitors to the city.  It simply isn't true. The admissions tax applies to all events.  If you go to a concert at Conseco Fieldhouse or a high school football game at Lucas Oil Stadium, you will pay the extra tax.  Even professional sporting events are mostly attended by people locally, especially NBA games.  As far as the rental car taxes, contrary to political spin, studies show most cars are rented by locals, not visitors to the city.

Councilor Vernon Brown
In 2010, Dr. Kevin Neels of the Brattle Group, which, according to its website, provides consulting and expert testimony in economics, finance, and regulation to corporations, law firms, and governments around the world, published a study entitled "Effects of Discriminatory Excise Taxes on Car Rentals: Unintentional Impacts on Minorities, Low Income Households, and Auto Purchases." This past December, Fox Business News ran an interesting story on the use of rental car taxes....   There is also pending litigation in Arizona, where Enterprise Rent-a-Car has sued the state claiming the imposition of a 3.5% rental car tax to pay for the Arizona Cardinals football stadium runs afoul of the federal and Arizona constitutions.  Given that Indianapolis' rental car taxes are considerably higher, and also used to pay for sports facilities as well as subsidize the operations of billionaire sports owners, one would think that the city is opening itself up to possible litigation by increasing, yet again, rental car taxes.

In October, a national business travel association ranked Indianapolis the 8th worst city in the country for visitor taxes.  Using their formula, it appears the rental tax car tax increase (not sure if the admissions tax is included in the formula will move Indianapolis up several slots making it the third worst city in the country for visitor taxes, behind only New York City and Chicago.

The irony is that this is all money that will go into the coffers of the CIB.  The CIB has proved itself to be enormously dishonest in reporting its financial state and continues to show extraordinarily bad negotiators when it comes to dealing with the local billionaire professional sports owners, most recently agreeing to give the Pacers $10  million this year to run a publicly-owned building on which the public gets no revenue...the Pacers get it all.  To say the CIB has been bad stewards of our tax dollars is a gross understatement.

See also:  

Sunday, December 9, 2012,  City Leaders Set to Raise Taxes for CIB While CIB "Negotiates" to Give the Pacers Millions More

Tuesday, October 2, 2012,Business Travel Association Rates Indianapolis as One of Worst Cities for Visitor Taxes


Had Enough Indy? said...

Although the proposed ordinance says it would raise the car rental tax from 4 to 6%, a recent article by Jon Murray say it would go from 15 to 17%.

These taxes must be enacted by the end of February or the authority to do so evaporates. That gives some room for the game of blackmail/counter-blackmail that is being waged between Mayor Vaughn and the Council Democrats.

Too bad the public doesn't get consideration.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I think Jon Murray's figures ihclude sales tax and maybe another tax.

Had Enough Indy? said...

not as written : "Soon they may have a fresh target: potential hikes being mulled by city leaders that could push taxes on car rentals from 15 to 17 percent and the admissions tax on Colts and Pacers tickets from 6 to 10 percent."

Paul K. Ogden said...

Yeah, I read that. I ASSUME it had to include sales tax. Unless there is more than one car rental tax.

Had Enough Indy? said...

good point - I believe the airport levies a tax and is therefore higher cost to travelers than a downtown rental spot.

Cato said...

Better not have your car break down in Indy and need a rental. Better never ever visit Indy and need to rent a car to see the town or visit an employer. Better not live in Indy and rent a car to do any tourism, as the City has imposed such punishing taxes as to make such activities prohibitive.

Why do the Republicans want to make car renting only for the rich? Does the sight of a peasant in a Ford Fusion infuriate them?

Downtown Indy said...

I fail to understand why the 'cure' to all government ills is always a tax increase. Tax increases have never solved any problem.

Assumming it is merely taking the easiest path doesn't come close to explaining the stupidity of the tactic.

Jon said...

The downtown politicos always claim that the new taxes they are creating won't affect local taxpayers but we all know that is BS. Thirty years ago we added a 1% tax on food and beverages that was supposed to go away once the Dome was paid off. Yeah that really worked well. We not only rolled the debt of the dome into some other bonds we built Lucas and added another 1% tax on food and beverage.