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