Dark Box Tax Assessments Bill Passes The Senate, Moves To House

Feb 27, 2019

A bill creating a uniform property value assessment passed smoothly through the Senate Tuesday afternoon. The legislation aims to help local governments struggling against retailers who want even lower taxes.

Big box stores have come under scrutiny of governments for using tactics to reduce property tax payments – a move some Indiana cities say is costing them dearly. The Indiana Farm Bureau says Boone County has spent more than $400,000 on legal costs fighting big box store chains that appeal property taxes.

Bill author Sen. Brian Buchanan (R-Lebanon) says he brought his local issue to the Statehouse hoping to close loopholes in current law and help other communities.

“And I will say no one likes paying property taxes, but when we have a property tax system, it’s important we all pay our fair share,” says Buchanan. “A lot of large commercial property, when they file an appeal often times they’re asking for a 35 to 40 percent reduction. And again, like I said, nobody likes paying property taxes, but when you do that it gets shift to other tax payers.”

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However, Sen. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) says she fears the bill’s language determining the tax value of a property impacts all businesses, including smaller ones.

“In this bill, not just affects big boxes, it affects everyone. Big companies, small company, moms and pop stores, anyone,” she says. “So it means if you are a small business owner and something happen, economy dips down or the government just decide they’re going to close out that intersection, you have no traffic to the store. That is not normal obsolescence. You know, this you still will be pay on this higher values.”

The bill passed 42-7 and now goes to the House, where Buchanan says he plans to keep improving it.