Indiana House panel OKs toll tax credit

| 1/25/2006

As debate continues inside the Indiana capitol on whether to lease the Indiana Toll Road, another bill up for consideration would allow the state’s users of the route to claim limited income-tax credits.

“In 1956, the promise was to remove tolls when the construction bonds were paid off,” Sen. Joe Zakas, R-Granger, the bill’s sponsor, said in a written statement. “However, Indiana residents have bitten the bullet and paid tolls for 50 years. This bill is a way to give some help to those Hoosiers who pay tolls by giving them a reimbursement for that payment.”

The reimbursement bill cleared the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee on a 7-4 vote Tuesday, Jan. 24, with amendments. The measure – SB17 – now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

As amended, the bill would authorize those who file an Indiana individual income tax return credits equal to half the amount of tolls paid, up to a maximum annual credit of $300. Toll road users would have to incur at least $600 in annual tolls to claim the maximum credit.

According to a fiscal analysis of the bill, the tax credits would cost the state between $3 million and $4.5 million in toll revenue annually.

Jay Kenworthy, deputy communications director for the Senate Majority Caucus, told Land Line certain Indiana truckers would be eligible for tax credits.

“If a small-business carrier claims his small business expenses on his individual income tax credit, he would qualify,” Kenworthy said.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said more needs to be done.

“Clearly this particular provision is designed to boost support from users of the Indiana Toll Road and make the (proposed leasing) more attractive to those communities in districts that run along the corridor.

“We don’t have a problem with that. But we’re concerned with the discriminatory aspects of this bill. It illustrates how the logic goes on these kinds of things. Lawmakers think the perfect tax or fee is one that somebody else pays. We don’t.”

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor