Thursday, November 19, 2009



Joe Wszolek, an Indiana Certified Tax Representative, gave Part II of his property tax appeal presentation at the Team Hammond meeting on Tuesday night.

Form 133 He went over the reasons for a property tax appeal and what forms should be used for the two different types of appeals. Form 133 should be used to correct an error such as an exemption that has been eliminated. Form 130 should be used to challenge an assessed value on a property. Form 133 appeals can be filed all year long. Form 130 appeals have a 45 day deadline after Form 11, Form 113 or tax bills have gone out. The deadline for 2008 appeals has been extended to December 2, 2009.

Joe also covered grade ratings and how they affect your assessed value and your neighborhoods. He showed examples of different types of residential properties and their grade ratings. You can use your neighbors' grade ratings in your appeal if your grade rating is significantly different.

The property record card available at the assessor's office is the first step in gathering information for your appeal. Joe explained what information is contained in the property record card and why it is the foundation for your appeal.

In an appeal, the burden of proof is on the homeowner not the assessor. The homeowner must provide documentation and evidence in order to prove the assessment is not correct. You cannot just say my assessment is too high. You must provide evidence supporting your claim. This evidence can be a certified appraisal, sales disclosures, and assessed values of other homes similar to the homeowners. This information can be obtained from local real estate agents and the county assessor's webpage. The DLGF is also a valuable source of information for an appeal. If the homeowner is willing to do the groundwork himself, he should not have to spend alot of money trying to win the appeal.

Joe also covered the different steps in the appeal process. The assessor has 120 days to schedule an informal hearing on an appeal. If that time passes, the homeowner can go to the PTABOA (Propety Tax Assessment Board of Appeals) and request a hearing. The hearing must be held within 180 within the filing of the appeal. If the homeowner is not satisfied with the ruling of the PTABOA, the next step is the Indiana Board of Tax Review in Indianapolis followed by the Indiana Tax Court.

The deadline for 2008 tax appeals is December 2, 2009. If the deadline is missed, the homeowner will have to wait until 2010 to file a 2009 appeal. Property tax bills came out on September 29 and the 45 day deadline has passed; however, the county assessor has extended the deadline until December 2, 2009. Homeowners must include a copy of the deadline extension with their appeal should their appeal continue on to the Indiana Board of Tax Review.

Any homeowner wishing to use sales disclosures for their 2008 appeal must use disclosures from the time period January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2007. Disclosures from the current year 2009 are not valid for a 2008 appeal.

Beginning in 2010, the burden of proof will be on the assessor if an assessed value of a property goes up more than 5%.

Joe cautioned that the results of an appeal are not always in favor of the homeowner. If an appeal is within 10% of the assessed value either way, the assessor is not obligated to make a correction. The assessed value within that 10% frame is considered correct.

Currently, homeowners are having to appeal their assessments every year. Joe said he and George Janiec are working to get a law passed that would make the new assessments won in an appeal permanent, and homeowners would no longer have to appeal every year.

The presentation ended with Joe answering questions from the audience.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


The next Team Hammond general meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at the Woodmar United Methodist Church, 7320 Northcote Avenue. Meet n' Greet will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the general meeting to follow at 7:00 p.m.

Our guest speaker for the evening will be Joe Wszolek, who will continue his presentation on Property Tax Appeals. Joe will specifically focus on the criteria for filing a property tax appeal and the procedure for filing an appeal. Joe is an Indiana Certified Residential Appraiser, an Indiana Certified Level II Assessor-Appraiser and an Indiana Certified Tax Representative (Real Property Assessment Appeal).

If you believe the assessment on your residence is not correct and would like to know how to go about fixing it, come to the Team Hammond meeting this Tuesday night. Find out if you have a legitimate concern and learn how to navigate your way through the appeal process. Deadline for 2008 appeals is December 4, 2009; time is running out!

For more information, contact George Janiec at (219) 678-6761.

Blunt Proof of the Feasibility to Permanently Abolish Property Tax

Media Contacts:
Melyssa Donaghy 317-938-8913
Max Katz 765-409-6669

Hoosiers For Fair Taxation, Senator Delph, Representative Noe, Representative Elrod and many other legislators along with Stop Indiana, attorney John Price, Eric Miller's Advance America, and the Statewide Taxpayer Alliance know that property tax abolishment, without substantial increases in sales tax and income tax, is realistic and possible. The economist Dr. Bill Styring's 2/2/2 Plan demonstrates that the state of Indiana can completely replace property tax without changing the state's current spending habits.

Dr. Styring's plan does not account for positive changes in Indiana's economy that will undoubtedly follow the elimination of property tax such as heavy real estate investment and increased consumer spending due to increased statewide disposable income. The real estate investment in Indiana alone would cause such an economic boom that it could likely end our abandoned property and foreclosure crisis. Property tax elimination would also likely cause a surge in Indiana's population as more people locate to Indiana to take advantage of real estate purchase opportunities without the burden of property tax. With the population surge would come more sales and income taxes.

The General Assembly does not have to adopt a specific plan until the year 2011. In the meantime, we recommend that the General Assembly approves the 27steps outlined in the report prepared by the Sheperd Kernan commission. While the Governor's commission cannot forecast the savings to the state once the plan is implemented, there is no doubt that the savings would be substantial--perhaps equivalent to the the entire property tax burden currently placed on Indiana's homeowners because our legislators have not had the political will to liberate Indiana's governing structure and her taxpayers from the 19th century.

Our citizen networks will work to replace all legislators who do not support property tax repeal in the November 2008 election.

The 2/2/2 Plan, to replace property taxes in Indiana based upon the latest revenue forecast (07/08 fiscal, estimate):

1) Current IN sales tax (state level rate of 6%): $5.601 billion2% increase would yield an additional $1.867 billion

2) Current corporate profits tax: ~$2 billion

2% increase would yield an additional $.286 billion ($286M)

3) A 2% statewide average of the COIT would yield $2.705 billion to cover local civil units of gov.

By adding these three together ($1.867 billion + $.286 billion + $2.705 billion), a total of $4.858 billion is realized; enough revenue to replace property taxes.

Indiana has a 70-plus year history of attempts to lower property taxes by raising other, non-property taxes. In every case these have failed miserably. The new taxes, or higher rates on old taxes, remain in place. And, in short order, property taxes rise back to their old levels, poised to roar even higher.

--1933. General Assembly imposes two new taxes: an individual gross income tax and a corporate gross income tax. The morgue of the Indianapolis Star indicates that the political leadership at the time said this was for property tax relief (1933 was the pits of the Great Depression, and people were losing their homes. Home prices declined by over 40% in the 1929-1933 period). Property tax relief was nonexistent. The state used the money to bail out the state's own finances.

--1963. General Assembly imposes a new sales tax at a rate of 2% and changes the 1933 individual gross income tax (from 1933) to an adjusted gross income tax (the one we have now) at a rate of 2%. Again, the ostensible reason was for property tax relief and again little PTR was forthcoming.

--1967. Those 1963 tax changes were raising more money than projected. The GA decides to give back 8% of sales and income tax revenue to local government for property tax relief. Local units spent the money. No PTR.

--1973. Gov. Otis Bowen launches the most determined PTR offensive yet. The sales tax goes to 4% and a new corporate supplemental net income (profits) tax is imposed. Strict property tax levy controls are imposed. It works... for a time. By 1980, property taxes adjusted for inflation are some 30% lower than in 1973. When Bowen leaves office the levy controls are relaxed. By the end of the decade, property taxes (adjusted for inflation) are back to 1973 levels. The doubling of the sales tax rate from 2% to 4% remains in place, along with the new corporate SNIT.

--2002. More fiddling with the sales tax in the hope of property tax relief. The results of this are obvious, or we wouldn't be debating the current property tax mess. All of this suggests that unless the property tax is totally ripped up by constitutional amendment, the assessment and collection mechanism dismantled, it will grow back. The PTR-inspired hikes in other taxes remain. That is our history. It is a terrible deal for taxpayers.

2. A vote in the 2008 legislative session for a constitutional amendment to repeal property taxes does not amend the constitution. It merely starts the amendment process. Amendments must be passed by two consecutively elected General Assemblies, then submitted to a referendum. Thus any amendment passed by the '08 Assembly must be passed by either the 2009 or 2010 legislatures, then submitted to the voters at the 2010 general election. The General Assembly does not need to decide on a "replacement revenue" package until the 2011 session.

3. What might such a "replacement revenue" package look like? The particular answer will come from the 2011 General Assembly and cannot be determined now (if for no other reason than forecasting state level taxes and property taxes out that far would be a most unreliable exercise. No one need be locked into any particular plan just yet. However, as an illustration that a replacement plan is feasible and less scary than many fear (we don't need to be talking about a 12% or 13% sales tax ... in fact, we should not be), consider just this one possibility.

Local sales taxes are generally very bad policy, for a whole host of reasons too numerous to mention in this short sketch. Sales and corporate taxes are best levied at the state level. It happens that roughly a 2% increase in the sales tax and a 2% increase in the corporate profits tax roughly take care of school propertytaxes. The loss of local control by the state assuming school property taxes is minimal. About the onlylocal control left is on building projects.

For local civil units, a statewide average increase in the individual adjusted gross income tax of about 2% suffices to replace local civil government property taxes, higher than 2% in some units, less than 2% in others.

Thus, a "2-2-2" plan~2% sales and 2% corporate profits at the state level for schools and a 2% average on personal income taxes for civil units—is about what would be needed. This is merely a ballpark projection to 2011.

There may be better plans, it's really a policy question for the General Assembly: do you want to make the trade of something like this in exchange for no-property-taxes-forever-on-anything? Everyone understands "zero."

4. Are there "practical problems? Of course. The two identified are how to make the civil government transition from a property tax base to an income tax base, and how to handle debt backed by property taxes. Without elaborating, the former can be handled using locator software (Map quest-type programs). The debt problem might be handled by treating the current state paid PTRC's as in lieu of property taxes (which they are) and paying PT-backed debt service from each unit's own PTRC.

Conclusion: Total elimination of the property tax via constitutional amendment is the only way to give property tax relief that will stick. The other tax action necessary to achieve this goal—in 2011-are large but not so scary as "a 13% sales tax." They are feasible. The question is for the General Assembly. Are we going to once again go down that 70-odd year path of failed PTR policies or are we going to rip the property tax up by the roots?

Posted by Hoosiers For Fair Taxation on Friday, January 4, 2008.