Governor Pence discusses plan to change Indiana tax code

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Governor Mike Pence is taking on the challenge of trying to make Indiana's tax code more competitive and simple at the same time.

He outlined his idea Tuesday to 200 local and national tax experts and policymakers.

"But I truly believe by simplifying our tax code, by making it more fair to Hoosiers, Indiana will actually increase voluntary compliance and also reduce the cost taxpayers incur as they try to navigate the current system," Pence told participants at the Indiana Tax Competitiveness and Simplification Conference.

In fact, the governor says tax simplification will be a top priority for lawmakers at the upcoming General Assembly in January. One local businessman says it may not be as big a problem as it's being made out to be.

If you have driven south on Madison Avenue in the city, you have probably passed Marien Hardware and didn't even know it. Hoosiers have been walking through the front door to do business since 1928.

"Here you go. Thanks a lot. Thank you," was the exchange between the cashier and a store customer.

At age 68, John Marien is the third generation of his family to dispense hardware on the south side of Indianapolis. The economic downturn has taken its toll on his business.

"It's like this. If our business is down, we don't send the state sales tax money and a lot of their budget is considered on the sales tax," Marien said while working behind the counter.

Pence says this discussion is not about reducing taxes. It is about simplifying taxes.

Indiana is leading the way in tax reform but eight states have reinvented the wheel by totally eliminating individual income tax and four more are on the verge of following suit.

"It's not good enough to stand still, because you are toward the front of the march, 'cause the march is going on," said Grover Norquist, one of the conference speakers said during a break in the day-long discussion.

"I like Indiana's tax structure," Marien added.

His biggest concern currently is the flirtation with raising the minimum wage.

"I've got three employees. I couldn't get anyone else. To be truthful with you, if they raise the minimum wage to ten dollars a hour I would probably just shut down because I would not be able to afford the ones I've got," Marien stated.

For now, he will just keep doing what he is doing. After all, it's worked for the last 86 years.

Marien says the biggest change the state should make to bring in more money is to make the state's riverboats smoke-free.