45 taxes, fees increased during Indiana legislative session
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers imposed or increased at least 45 different taxes and fees during this year’s legislative session.
The increases affect everything from notary services to teacher background checks to fuel prices, The Northwest Indiana Times reported.
Increases include a 10 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax increase starting July 1 and an additional $15 for new vehicle registrations. Money raised from both fees will go toward funding road construction projects.
Fees have also increased for a variety of services in the court system, including the automated record-keeping fee, notary fees and DNA sample processing fees.
State lawmakers adjust various taxes and fees every year and try to avoid general tax increases on incomes or sales, said Republican state Sen. Brandt Hershman of Lafayette, who is chairman of the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee.
“Many of us feel that’s a good policy, because it’s a fee-for-service model and people can make a decision as to whether it’s a good value for them or not, and whether they’re getting bang for their buck,” Hershman said.
Hershman sponsored a law that explicitly requires professional athletes and motorsports competitors to pay income tax when they work in the state. Anyone who works in Indiana already incurs an income tax liability, but the new law streamlines the process for athletes who live in other states and may have otherwise ignored their Indiana tax obligations, he said.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb declined to characterize the state as imposing “a lot” of tax and fee hikes.
He instead was quick to say, “I’m very comfortable with paying for what we need.”
Lawmakers also approved requiring state licenses for several occupations have that previous seen little regulation such as massage therapists, social workers and manufactured-home dealers. The licenses cost between $10 and $400.
School employees will have to pay $30 to $40 for a renewal background check every five years if their employer chooses not to pay for it, and college students will have to pay between $100 and $150 for a mandatory meningitis vaccine if they do not have health insurance.
House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath of Michigan City said the number of tax and fee increases enacted by the Republican-dominated Legislature seemingly go against the tax-cutting policies the GOP frequently touts.
“Sometimes I get a little flummoxed,” Pelath said. “The raids on the private citizens’ wallets come in a myriad of ways, in very small amounts, spread over a very wide area … and they’re very hard to keep up with.”