County officials do not want to increase the local income tax this year because that would negatively affect the majority of Allen County residents who are working homeowners, Commissioner Nelson Peters said.
Even a small increase in the income tax would mean workers would pay more taxes overall, despite a lower property tax bill, Deputy Auditor Tera Klutz said.
In a related editorial in today's JG, it sounds like Commissioner Bill Brown favors the option that would provide "relief" to all property owners:
Q. County Commissioner Bill Brown suggested any tax break should go to all property owners, including businesses. Is that a good idea?
A. Only if City Council members consciously decide to move some of the tax burden now paid by businesses to wage earners. And that move will offer the least relief for property owners, many of whom will face higher overall taxes.
This issue illustrates a fact Hoosiers must keep in mind. Overall, each county would raise the same amount of money from workers and property owners; changes would shift who pays what. Workers who don’t own property would likely pay more.
The JG needs to make a more forceful statement here. Not only is it a certainty that workers who don't own property will pay more, but it's also true that any family or individual making over $24,000/yr will pay more. Does anyone think it's a good idea to decrease the take home pay and increase the overall tax burden for workers that are already significantly below the national median wage? Obviously Bill Brown does. Also, the JG should stop referring to a flat income tax as "progressive" - it is not.
The bad news is taxes are what they are - they will not be going down no matter what the city council decides. It's a zero sum game - for everyone that experiences tax "relief" somebody will see a tax increase. The problem is that under the options being considered by the city council working class people will be the ones to shoulder more of the burden.
If city and county officials want to do something then they should look at ways other states have restricted future property tax increases - namely they should look at levy caps that tie government spending increases to inflation and economic growth. Alas, that is another post for another day...