The Cleveland-Cliffs Gateway to Burns Harbor is shown. JAMES WOODS / photo

When the Indiana legislature meets again in January, they might consider reforming the way the state of Indiana collects personal property taxes from businesses, which is making Burns Harbor Clerk-Treasurer nervous, Jane Jordan.

Jordan said it would be particularly devastating for the city if the legislature completely eliminated personal property taxes for businesses.

Two-thirds of the city’s tax base is generated through personal property tax, and most of it is collected on the value of equipment inside the massive Cleveland-Cliffs plant.

The city’s total tax value would drop from $ 662.6 million to $ 258.6 million. Jordan said this would mean that to make up the difference, property taxes for residents could potentially triple.

Matt Greller is the CEO of Accelerate Indiana Municipalities in Indianapolis, a trade association that advocates for municipal and municipal governments in Indiana. Greller said Jordan had good reason to be concerned.

“It would be a huge success for this community,” said Greller. “Burns Harbor is in a unique position because they are so dependent on one industry. “

However, Greller said he didn’t believe the Indiana legislature would eliminate personal property taxes for businesses. Greller said that the way Indiana taxes are structured, business property tax provides significant revenue for cities, towns and schools.

But he thinks the legislature will look for ways to lower personal property taxes for big business, and that should always be a concern.

Currently, industries are allowed to claim depreciation on equipment, but cannot go below 30% of its value, Greller said. For example, a steel mill might buy a piece of equipment for $ 1 million and, after a number of years, might claim that the value has dropped to $ 300,000.

Greller said lawmakers are likely considering allowing companies to write down the value of older equipment by as much as 15% or even zero.

Jordan said it was difficult to determine what the dollar impact would be on Burns Harbor if the legislature allowed a company to claim a higher capital cost allowance for equipment.

Supporters of property tax reform for businesses argue that it is “an archaic tax that discourages business growth,” Greller said. Another argument is that lowering personal property taxes for businesses could potentially encourage investment, Greller said.

“We are not opposed to the changes,” said Greller. “But we need dollar-for-dollar replacement income to ensure that local government can continue to provide the services voters expect.”

While Burns Harbor could be hit the hardest by the personal property tax changes, Jordan said all of Porter County would be affected. The Duneland School Corporation benefits from the Cleveland-Cliffs Personal Property Tax. Porter County’s total tax value would also decrease, impacting the collection of tax levies countywide, Jordan said.

Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder noted that changes to personal property tax laws would also affect collections at the Midwest plant of the US Steel Corporation, a major employer in Portage and County of Carry.

“It would have a ripple effect,” Snyder said.

However, Snyder said he didn’t think lawmakers would go so far as to eliminate property tax from businesses.

“I’ve seen similar ideas year after year,” Snyder said. The likely outcome, Snyder said, is that the legislature could consider smaller changes that can be made to personal property taxes.

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