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The Indiana Senate recently passed a budget that speeds up the phase-out of the state’s inheritance tax (PDF), cuts taxes for the politically well-connected financial industry, and reduces the state’s flat personal income tax rate from 3.4 to 3.3 percent.
The income tax cut in the plan, though a scaled-back version of a plan that Governor Pence originally proposed on the campaign trail, is similarly regressive. A new report from our partner organization, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), shows that while the Senate income tax cut is significantly smaller than the Governor’s, the two plans are equally lopsided—distributing the lion’s share of the benefits to the state’s most affluent residents.
ITEP finds that over half (55 percent) of the income tax cuts under either plan would go to the best-off 20 percent of Indiana residents. Out of this group, the top 1 percent would fare best of all—receiving an outsized 14 percent share of the benefits. Their average tax cut would range from $694 under the Senate’s plan to $2,361 per tax filer under the Governor’s preferred approach.
Middle- and lower-income taxpayers would not fare nearly as well. The entire bottom 60 percent of households would be divvying up just 23 percent of the tax cuts enacted under either plan, while the poorest 20 percent of Indiana residents in particular would see a tiny 2 percent share. Under the Senate plan, this group would see an average tax cut of just $6, while the $20 cut they’d see under the Governor’s proposal is only marginally more generous.
This lopsided tax cut comes on top of a state tax system that is already, according to ITEP’s ranking, the ninth most regressive in the country.
But even putting fairness considerations aside, a recent letter from House Speaker Brian Bosma referenced by ITEP points out that Indiana’s last round of tax cuts wrecked the state’s budget. Even with late news of a boost in revenue projections, Indiana lawmakers would be wise to avoid a repeat of that fiscal history for the sake of tax giveaways that serve no greater economic good.
For more detail, see ITEP’s new report: Indiana Senate’s Income Tax Cut: Just as Lopsided as the Governor’s.