Tax & Finance Trivia

Tax Trivia Questions by the Month

Here are the answers to the monthly "Tax Trivia" questions, with the most recent question listed first. Thank you for your interest in local government tax and finance topics!


September
By fund classification, what are the three largest budgets in Porter County as adopted in 2018 and as proposed for 2019? And where can the general public readily find this information?

Answer: The county's General Fund budget is the largest single budget by fund. In 2018, the adopted General Fund budget totaled $39.46 million. For 2019, the general fund budgets were proposed at $41.36 million.

The next two largest budgeted funds in 2018 are the Highway fund budget and the Local Income Tax budget. For 2019, the next two largest budgeted funds are for the County Revenue and the County Stormwater bonds.

Where can the public readily find this information? On the Porter County Auditor webpage, where we have posted several years of adopted budgets. I am delighted to note that due to enhancements we have made, this year we were also able to post the proposed 2019 budgets online. The webpage is located at www.porterco.org/auditor.

August
What is the statewide growth quotient, and has it increased or decreased in the past two years?

Answer: The growth quotient is a vital component of the budget process. Generally speaking, it reflects the percentage by which local government units are allowed to grow their property tax levies each year. It is also known as the Assessed Value Growth Quotient.

The growth quotient has increased in the past few years -- until dropping for 2019. The growth quotient was 3.8% in budget year 2017, a rather significant increase from the 2.6% the year before. Then, for 2018, it increased again, to 4%. But for budget year 2019, the growth quotient has fallen to 3.4%.

Because the calculation is based on a six-year rolling average of Indiana non-farm income growth, the growth quotient is viewed as one indicator of the state's overall economic health.

July
Porter County has a number of TIF areas. In which municipalities are TIFs located in Porter County?

Answer: Valparaiso, Portage, Chesterton, Porter, Burns Harbor, and Hebron

June
Have local government funding losses from the tax caps increased or decreased in Porter County over the past three years?

Answer: Overall, the tax cap totals have decreased in Porter County since 2016. The grand total of the tax cap credits was about $11.3 million in 2016, falling to $8.6 million the next year. This year, the tax caps total just under $8 million countywide.


May
Which tax cap category accounts for the most tax credits in Porter County, under the 2018 estimates?

Answer: The 2% category. This category includes apartments and other residential rental units. This year, the 2% tax credits are estimated to total $4.8 million countywide, compared to $3 million for the 1% category.

April
Approximately how much does Porter County's homestead credit save on homeowner tax bills?

Answer: The homestead credit's impact on individual homeowners varies due to factors such as the property's assessed valuation, deductions, and the referendum tax rate, if applicable. Here are two examples, both for homes assessed at $165,000, one in the city of Portage and one in the city of Valparaiso in Center Township. For the Portage homeowner, the 2018 credit is about $258. For the Valparaiso homeowner, the credit totals about $235. (These examples assume that the homeowners receive only the homestead deductions.)

March
Eight school corporations are in Porter County's taxing districts. How many have voter-approved school referendum tax rates? What are the rates in 2018?

Answer: Four school corporations have referendum approved tax rates for taxes payable in 2018. They are: Duneland School Corporation, Boone Township School Corporation, Union Township School Corporation, and Valparaiso School Corporation. The rates that will appear on the pay-2018 tax bills are as follows:

Boone Township Schools: 21 cents
Duneland Schools: 22 cents
Union Township Schools: 19.22 cents
Valparaiso Schools: 66.27 cents

Did you know? The Porter County Auditor's Office has a flier available, written by Porter County Auditor Vicki Urbanik, that explains the school referendum process and gives a four-year history of the rates. This flier is one of several available as part of our public outreach display!

February
What is the median property tax rate in Porter County in 2018?

Answer: 1.9874 ($1.9874 per $100 assessed value). Per the Porter County budget order,  the property tax rate in Kouts in Pleasant Township is the county's median tax rate this year. This means that half of the rates are higher, and half are lower.

Interested in seeing all the tax rates that will be applied to the 2018 tax bills? Visit the Porter County Auditor's webpage at www.porterco.org/auditor, then go to the "Property Taxes" tab, then "Property Tax Rates." Or stop by our office and pick up our flier, "Porter County Tax Rates, 2017-2018" flier.


January
How many Indiana counties have a HIGHER county income tax rate than Porter County in 2018?

Answer: 89

To elaborate, of Indiana's 92 counties, one other county, Warrick County, has the same county income tax rate as Porter County's, 0.5%. And only one other county, Jefferson, has a lower rate than Warrick and Porter in 2018.

The remaining 89 counties all have higher county income tax rates, per the state's "Final CY 2018 Certified Distributions" report. Below is a pie chart I put together showing the different income tax rates.

As indicated, the most common county income tax rates are in the range of 1% to 2.49%. More specifically, 30 counties have income tax rates of between 1.5% and 1.99%. Meanwhile, 22 counties have rates ranging from 1% to 1.49%,  and 21 counties have rates of between 2% and 2.49%.

                                                                                
                                                                                  --Chart by Vicki Urbanik

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