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An Open Letter to the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee: Oppose the Arbitrary Satellite TV Tax!
January 22, 2010
Dear Chairman Crawford and Members of the House Ways and Means Committee:
On behalf of more than 7,700 National Taxpayers Union (NTU) members in Indiana, I urge you to reject HB 1278, which would impose a targeted 5 percent surtax on roughly 800,000 families who choose satellite television over cable. In addition to coming at a time of economic uncertainty, this legislation represents government attempting to influence private citizens’ choices in the marketplace. We believe that taxes should remain low and be applied fairly and equally across the board to satellite, cable, or other services. HB 1278 violates these principles.
This is certainly not the time to raise taxes on Indiana families. The unemployment rate stands just shy of 10 percent, up from 7.8 percent only a year ago. The economy has forced taxpayers to make hard choices to trim back spending. State government should be providing citizens with tax relief, rather than hitting them with expensive new levies.
Apart from its impact on family budgets, a targeted tax such as this represents government overstepping its bounds and attempting to influence consumer choices. Television customers should be free to choose a service that best fits their needs based on market prices, programming, and convenience. By imposing a new levy on satellite alone, government is artificially raising the price of one option. This is akin to a new tax on Nike shoes, but not Adidas.
Furthermore, residents of rural Indiana often have no access to cable television. With satellite TV as their only option, HB 1278 penalizes tens of thousands of Indianans based solely on geography. While any discussion of tax increases in the current economic climate should be a non-starter, one with such unintended consequences should be considered dead on arrival.
Indiana is undergoing a correction in the size of state government. The legislature has largely been successful in making difficult budgetary decisions and resisting tax increases. While this proposal may present a tempting under-the-radar source of revenues, the Ways and Means Committee must resist further burdening Indiana families with a larger tax bill. On behalf of NTU’s 7,700 members in the state, I urge you to affirm your commitment to fiscal responsibility in the Hoosier State and oppose HB 1278.