Council OKs tax hikes on tickets, car rentals

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The Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday night approved tax hikes to admissions to downtown events and on rental cars.

The admissions tax, which would rise from 6 percent to 10 percent March 1 if approved by Mayor Greg Ballard, is levied on events at Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Victory Field and the Indiana Convention Center. The tax doesn't apply to not-for-profit events.

The county tax on rental cars would rise from 4 percent to 6 percent. Combined with state rental and sales taxes, the total tax on rental cars would be 17 percent.

The council approved both hikes by a vote of 16-12.

“Tonight, in a bipartisan fashion, members of the City-County Council made difficult but necessary votes to strengthen the fiscal position of our city," Ballard said in a prepared statement. "I want to praise the leadership of both parties for reaching a long-term budget deal that cuts spending and provides the necessary revenue to maintain the City’s vital amenities and services.”  

The ticket tax hike was opposed by Indianapolis Colts executives, who say the higher ticket prices could turn off fans and lead to possible TV blackouts of Colts home games.

The car-rental industry also opposed a tax increase, arguing that the tax affects local residents as much as out-of-towners.

That tax hikes are projected to generate $6.7 million for the city’s general fund this year. In the future, most of the money will flow to the Capital Improvement Board, which operates the sports venues and Indiana Convention Center.

CIB officials have said they need the extra revenue to cover future operating expenses, including building maintenance and upgrades, though the CIB hasn’t laid out specific plans.

The money that flows to city coffers will reduce a $47 million structural deficit.


  • Missing the Point
    Joe and Chris, you are missing the point. These tax increases were never needed in the first place. 75% of the money is simply going to the CIB which is flush with cash and constantly giving away our money to pro sports franchises. The reason for the tax increases - we are going to build a downtown soccer stadium with our tax dollars, and use public money to run the place while a big contributor of the Mayor (who was also given the Broad Ripple Parking Garage built with our tax dollars) reaps all the profits. Your notion that you can simply avoid the tax by not going to events or renting a car is nonsensical. A lot of lower middle class people in this city have to rent cars for business or personal use. They are now going to be hit with 17% tax on those cars all so the CIB can give away more of our tax dollars to wealthy owners of pro teams. Also, many families like to take their children to events at CIB run facilities. They all pay higher taxes. Trying to say well if you just look at one car rental or one ticket and say it's not too bad ignores the cumulative effect of taxes. People make other choices when the good or service being utilized with every increase in taxes. I now am no longer going to rent cars in Marion County. By going to a Hamilton County I can avoid not just the most recent car rental tax but the entire car rental tax Indy has been imposing. The bottom line is these taxes did not have to be raised. They were raised because our council is filled with irresponsible individuals who love giving our tax dollars to the CIB so they can get free tickets to games and other events. (Of course councilors and members of the CIB do not pay taxes on their tickets...that's only for the "little people.") They do not care about the cost to working class individuals.
  • @ Chris
    It's not the marginal tax increase, it's the total taxes that should be considered. Many economists say the average American pays north of 50% in taxes once everything is considered. So it's not the $.90 increase, it's the $.90 times a thousand that gets people upset.
  • The Ticket Tax is 10%
    Edward, if the ticket costs $9, let's just say without tax, then with total new tax, it now costs $9.90, meaning the tax is 90 cents. If you cannot afford 90 more cents, than you are desperately poor and you should not be going out to baseball games in the first place. Also, unlike an income tax, whether you pay the tax is totally within your control. If you don't want to pay the extra 90 cents, then do not go to a baseball game--it's that simple. Whether raising the tax was a good idea or not is an issue for debate, but let's not pretend the tax hike is somehow an onerous amount for anyone.
  • The Base Amount Matters
    Michael, go to New York (since you must have never been before). You will find even "cheap" hotels routinely go for over $300 a night. Restaurants are also far more expensive than Indianapolis. You cannot just look at the tax percentage (the rate), you have to look at the actual base amount taxed. Regardless of the tax rate, Indianapolis is far cheaper to both visit and live in than New York.
  • Rich Folks
    You can get an adult Indians ticket for only $9 and bring your own food and beverage. It's certainly not just the "Rich" that attend these games. I also I read in an earlier article that the Indians are not going to increase the price of what they charge fans for 2013 so the team is essentially paying the tax for their fans, at least this year.
    • event/car tax hikes
      this is very short sighted on the council's part. but if they want to play fair, then charge the comped ticket users the fee. people aren't stupid, local folks will go to hamilton county to rent cars. visitors will tire of high tax for food, high tax for lodging; high tax for rental car; high tax for food. It will be new yorkish in fashion...hell might as well go to new york.
      • DRT.....
        This isn't really a tax for tax's sake. IT is a specific and localized service charge or fee. If you don't want to pay it, don't go to a concert or rent a car....it is really that simple. People are already paying $50-70-100 for tickets to this crap. If that is your priority, then you are rich. My point about reversing the increase is the simply idea of diminishing returns. Theoretically, the price will get high enough so that enough people stop buying them and thus the added revenue begins to decline. It is clear that there is still plenty of room until that theoretical maximum.
        • Rich folks?
          Yeah, Joe, only rich people attend Colts games, only rich people attend monster truck rallys, only rich people attend baseball games at Victory field, only rich people attend rock concerts. Oh, and I'm sure the politicians will reduce the tax with the same zeal as they levied the increase. There's nothing more permanent than a temporary tax increase.
          • Liars
            Typical GOP - campaign on no new taxes, then tax everything you cant sell to foreigners. Indiana needs to wake up. They prey on the naive
          • Relax.....
            Calm down everybody. The prices for events are already quite high and reserved for hgiher incomes. If you can't/don't want to pay the prices, don't. If this turns out to be a substantial burdon on events, we can always reduce the tax.........just relax for a bit.
          • to the public
            i recommend not attending any functions downtown and attend a bar&restuarant where you may watch free with eats
          • Ballard
            Mayor Ballard has made it his goal to raise every tax and fee collected by local government during his tenure. He's closing in on completing this task. I can't believe this is the same person I worked for in 2007, the man who promised to roll back taxes and end country club politics. I am so sorry for helping get him elected. Now we get to look forward to a publicly funded downtown soccer stadium that will be paid for with these tax increases.

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