An Indiana Tax Conference held Tuesday focused on simplifying the state’s tax system.
Participants at conference included Arthur Laffer, the principal architect of Reaganomics, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, and former Bush administration economic advisor Al Hubbard.
Their message is uniform: Indiana’s tax code is too complex and must be simplified to create a better environment for economic growth.
Norquist says pushing for tax reform and simplification must begin by pledging not to raise taxes. He points to Kansas, which is in the midst of a complete phase out of its income tax.
“Nobody finds their taxes increasing,” Norquist says. “As revenues come in through economic growth – more people working, people leaving Missouri and going over the border to Kansas where taxes are lower – that revenue is then spent in lowering rates for everybody.”
Governor Mike Pence says there are plenty of inconsistencies to address in Indiana’s tax code.
“This is not about revenues per se; this is about trying to look at a way that we can reform the tax code, lessen the burden of compliance on Hoosiers and Hoosier businesses and create a more attractive environment for investment through tax simplification,” Pence says.
Pence wouldn’t get into more specifics, saying the conference and upcoming legislative study committees will form a plan for next session.
But House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says the conference won’t produce new ideas because the voices being heard from are the same ones who have crafted Indiana’s economic policies for a decade.
“You have to go on the track record,” Pelath says. “Here, simplifying has meant that consumers and workers should pay more of the burden and the people who are running the state ought to pay less.”
Pelath says the average household income in Indiana has dropped by more than $6,000 in the last ten years while the gap between the average incomes of the state’s top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent have widened.