INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana taxpayers will receive a $111 credit on their
state income tax returns next year as the state distributes part of its
budget surplus under a refund plan that Gov. Mitch Daniels pushed through
the state Legislature.
Daniels announced Wednesday that the credit will be $222 for couples filing
joint returns after the state wrapped up its budget year in June with
reserves reaching about $2.1 billion.
About $360 million will go toward the tax credits, with another $360 million
to the state’s pension liabilities for teachers and many state employees,
according to the governor’s office.
The tax credit will come off of what Hoosiers owe on their 2012 state tax
returns, which the governor’s office said typically averages about $850 for
Daniels said some 335,000 people are expected to receive state tax refunds
next year, more than would have without the plan to return the state
“We thought a tax refund would be more meaningful for low-income to
moderate-income people,” Daniels said.
Critics argue that Daniels created the reserves — amounting to about 15
percent of the state’s budget — by cutting millions of dollars in funding
for public schools, the child welfare agency and other important services.
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said the money going to
what he called a modest tax refund could better be spent investing in better
roads, infrastructure and health care around the state.
“While a saccharin tax refund is nice, it’s not what’s going to move Indiana
forward,” Pelath said.
The state’s cash reserves accrued because of three major factors: improved
tax collections by the state as it continues to crawl out of the recession,
a series of cuts to state agencies made over the last few years and a tax
error resulting in the state discovering $320 million in a tax collection
The tax credit kicked in because the state’s reserves topped 10 percent of
its planned spending for the year. But state lawmakers earlier this year
increased that trigger to 12.5 percent of state spending for future refunds.
“Better that these dollars remain in the pocket of the people who earned
them than burn a hole in the pocket of government,” Daniels said.