Taxing lawyers, docs, Realtors

January 7, 2008
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Your lawyer probably isnâ??t complaining. Neither would your doctor, Realtor or accountant.

In all the talk about reforming property taxes, hardly a word has been said about shifting some of the property tax burden to services.

That means some of the most lucrative potential sources of revenue may stay off the table during the General Assemblyâ??s short session, which begins tomorrow.

Steve Johnson, the former CEO of the nonpartisan Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute, thinks itâ??s unrealistic to think legislators would take up the issue while it deals with property taxes and reforming local government. But he insists it should come up, if not now, then in the next few years.

The state hasnâ??t broadened its tax base in a meaningful way since it added a sales tax in the 1960s, Johnson points out.

Previous attempts to tax services were quickly slapped down by lobbyists, but, Johnson adds, â??It eventually is going to have to come to a head and be seriously discussed.â??

Should Indiana tax services?
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  • Norm,

    The last time I looked Indiana does tax services. Look at your next plumbers, cable, telephone, IPL, IWC, ups shippments, etc.

    If the State would tax services from Doctors, Lawyers (you missed lawyers), realtors, stock brokers, consultants, etc. I would just be passed on to the public. Regarding realtors, are you talking about taxing the realtor or the buyers of the new home?

    dwf
  • Politicians should devote there time to cutting structural government expenses as proposed by the bipartisan committee headed by former Governor Joe Kernan and Indiana Supreme Court Justice Randall Sheppard instead of dreaming up new revenue sources or playing a shell game with taxes?
  • DWF, a possibility that has been discussed is to tax property transactions. Sellers, not Realtors, would pay this tax. The tax probably would depress property prices, in effect cutting Realtor commissions.
  • It is unlikely that politicians will reduce their spending, eliminate township government or streamline government administration unless the states news media, voters, and business lobbyists provide relentlous public pressure on government leaders.
  • What about the self-employment tax paid by consulting professionals (of all stripes)?

    Here's a tip from a consultant for free: Streamline services and the ways in which they're delivered, institute process improvement to find waste (and reward people for its elimination), ruthlessly delete reduncancy in all areas, then consider what services are (1) critical and (2) important but can be temporarily sidelined. If we're spending more than we take in, we're what my great grandmother with her 5th grade education called broke. The stuff in the (1) pile gets saved first and then we do triage on the stuff in the (3) pile. Finally, we figure out the best way to collect taxes for the services that, in the final analysis, are needed by the people (and that we're willing to pay for).

    How's that?

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