Editor, Times-Union:
The inefficient, confiscatory and discriminatory property tax must go. If the property tax were done away with, state income taxes would only be increased moderately in Indiana.
The nonprofit Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute examines property taxes each year, seeking to guarantee equality in how property taxes are assessed and theorizing fairness in geographic location differences, and residential versus business property taxes. Who decides what is fair?
Property taxes are abated to businesses under the guise of jobs promised, but never abated for the elderly living on a fixed income. That is unfair.
Just how costly is it to collect property tax revenue in Indiana, in terms of net revenue realized? Consider the partial list of expenses in collecting property taxes:
* Sizeable staff requirements for each County Assessor and Treasurer offices;
* Aerial photos to identify properties;
* Complex data processing systems such as Schneider-Beacon to compile property details;
* Advertising expenses for tax payment deadlines and tax delinquent property auctions;
* Preparation, mailing and collection of property tax bills;
* Legal expenses in such matters as tax appeals and property confiscation;
* State employees salaries in computing revenue millage rates for each county year by year
Indiana counties spend huge sums to purchase aerial photos every few years in order that salaried government employees can compare old and current photos to determine if structural changes or new structures have been added which may have avoided additional taxes. This costly analysis is, of course, intended to maximize property tax revenue.
Here are some practical reasons why Indiana would benefit from ending the property tax. A home improvement and remodeling boom would come about, as people would no longer be penalized with higher property taxes for making improvements. Such home improvements would be good for neighborhoods, communities, and builders.
The second reason is the property tax system is invasive. Too much information about everyone's private home is publicly available on the internet, including whether the owner has a mortgage or not, how many bathrooms, toilets, etc. a home has.
Thirdly, property tax laws give the state the power to perpetually tax a family's home, even when it is completely paid for. This is a denial of the freedom of outright property ownership in a free country. Property tax law is confiscatory, in that private property can be seized by the state, and sold at auction for the payment of the property tax bill.
Revenue via the state income tax is much more efficient in its operation and collection than the property tax. And more fair to wage earners.  If you earn more, you pay more, based on a uniform state tax rate, simple as that. Furthermore, if a given county imposes a county income tax, those taxes are simply paid via the state income tax return, making the tax revenue much less costly to collect and distribute to cities and counties.
Rick Wagner
Pierceton, via email