Thursday, July 17, 2003

First Bummer

Whether speaking politically or economically, in my 10 months in Indiana, I have found almost everything to be more positive here than in the state I left behind, Ohio.

I gave myself a decent raise just in terms of the income taxes. In Ohio, my income tax rate was a little above 7%. In Indiana, it is 3.13%. In Ohio, I was subjected to double municipal taxes. When I worked in Parma but lived in Cleveland, one charged me 2% and the other 1.5%. In Indiana, I am charged 0.25% by Marion County. That's better than a 7% raise... just for swapping states!

I gained the ability to vote for the party I am a member of, the Libertarian Party, when I moved to Indiana. I couldn't do that in Ohio. The Republicans- Secretary of State Ken Blackwell in particular- made sure of that. Indiana had 160 candidates in 2002. Ohio had zero.

As much as I like my new state, I had hoped to hang on to my Ohio driver's license until it would expire in 2005. My plan was that it would stay in my wallet, along with the money I save in not getting an Indiana licnese. But the BMV threw a wrench in that plan, since my Ohio plates expired in June of 2003. The clever Indiana BMV would not issue Indiana plates without an Indiana drivers license.

So, about 50 bucks and a written test later, I got my Indiana license. It was pretty much in line with the cost of one in Ohio. Then I got my new title and Indiana plate.


I asked why the heck it cost so much. I was told that there was an excise tax collected by the BMV, the amount of which depended upon my vehicle.

I have a 1997 Saturn SL2. It's a simple A-to-B car. No frills. 130,000 miles. I asked how much the tax would be on an average new car. I was told that it would be anywhere from $800 to $1,000!

Back home, I told Ame about this. Ame has a 1996 Chevy Cadaver, er, Cavalier, with about 125,000 miles. It isn't surviving nearly as well as the Saturn, and she talks frequently about buying a new car. Her response? A definite, "I won't be buying a new car any time soon."

Isn't this a great policy? The people of Indiana are discouraged from buying new cars by an agregious tax. Think about the ramifications of that. Hoosiers are encouraged to drive cars that are falling apart, posing safety risks to the driver inside and everyone else on the roadway. The state that relies more on manufacturing for employment than any other state in the Union, and is especially reliant on the auto industry, proactively shies its own people away from purchasing the products they help make.

The tax is part of an economic shell game. Where Indiana doesn't take through the income tax, it takes through the BMV. It even brags about how the Hoosier Lottery- the greatest tax on ignorance ever invented- helps lessen the excise taxes. You mean if people were smarter and didn't play the Lottery, the excise tax would be higher? Is intelligence ever rewarded instead of punished?

Indiana may be better than Ohio, but it isn't any kind of utopia.

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