Car rental, ticket tax rates jump in Indianapolis
The City of Indianapolis is trying to balance its budget, and that could impact many people whether they live in central Indiana or not.
Visit Indy says the city had a record number of tourists last year. Twenty-two million people came to Indianapolis, with the Super Bowl being the big attraction of 2012. Those visitors brought in $3.9 billion and supported 75,000 jobs downtown.
Now, a new tax meant to cash in on all of those out-of-towners is also likely to impact those of us who live here.
Every tourist, convention-goer, and resident visiting downtown's biggest entertainment venues or renting a car will likely pay more to balance the city's budget.
The plan is to raise the ticket tax to ten percent. That's a 67-percent increase. It also calls for bumping the rental tax to 17 percent, a 12-percent increase.
At the airport, where additional taxes and fees are added in, the tax rate is already 26 percent.
James Williams, a business traveler, tried not to notice.
"You gotta pay for the things you want somehow. Taxes is usually how we get it down," he said.
Business travelers can pass the costs on to clients.
Most of Charlie Mullen's customers can't. He's worried about losing them. Seventy-five percent of Ace Rent-A-Car's business comes from local people.
"Those customers rent vans for vacations, when their car breaks down, they need a replacement car," Mullen said.
Even higher taxes certainly won't help a city with a reputation for high taxes.
The Global Business Travel Association keeps a list of cities and all their taxes. The number one worst city is Chicago. Not far behind at number eight is the City of Indianapolis.
Visit Indy, the organization promoting the city and booking conventions, doubts the proposed tax increases would have much impact on tourism.
"Even with the current tax structure on hotels and rental cars, we are still more affordable than other competing cities like Chicago or Orlando," said Chris Gahl, Visit Indy.
But that's little consolation to local fans, who could pay more to see their favorite teams, concerts and other downtown events.
The mayor's office says non-profit and school events like high school games will be exempt from the ticket tax. It's expected to raise $6.7 million in the first year. The mayor and the Democratic City-County Council agreed to raise the ticket and car rental tax.