Though property tax hikes are a hot topic across the U.S., the debate is especially intense in Indiana, where "pro-business" reform has ironically resulted in higher taxes for many entrepreneurs.
Up until this year, the state depreciated residences based on age, rather than actual value, giving the owners of fancy old homes a sweetheart deal at the expense of all other taxpayers, including commercial property owners. When an effort to update the system was first broached, business groups supported it -- until, they say, local governments used it as a pretext to raise levies. At the same time, the General Assembly increased the state's homestead exemption to $35,000 from $6,000, to help out low-income homeowners.
In northern Indiana, so many homeowners were exempted that, according to one study, 62% of all commercial property owners have seen their taxes jump. Walt Szymanski, who runs Northern Indiana Swimming Pool in Gary, saw the taxes on his 5,000-square-foot warehouse rise 60%, to $8,000 a year. "They must have relieved somebody's taxes," he says, "but I don't understand it."