State Revenues Under Projections, but Nothing to Worry About Yet

It’s true: The tax collections for the first two months of the new fiscal year and new state budget have fallen slightly below the forecasted target. Specifically, general fund revenues for July and August combined are $65 million short of the projections. That is 3.2% under the combined forecasts for those two months. But to worry about $65 million at this point is not warranted. First, $65 million is only a blip when you consider that we are talking about a $30 billion budget. Secondly, as in surveys and polls, a variance of less than 5% in revenue forecasting is statistically insignificant.

And lastly, there are 22 more months in the biennium. There will inevitably be fluctuations in the revenue numbers throughout the balance of this fiscal year and next fiscal year. The variance could double or it could disappear in the next couple months. The point is – until we experience a full quarter of shortfalls that total more than 5% – concern is premature.

This is not to say that the numbers are meaningless or that they should be ignored. Keeping a close watch on the revenues and reacting accordingly has been a key to Indiana maintaining its strong fiscal status over the last several years. Discrepancies between the forecast and the actual collections can result from many things, as can be noted in the budget agency commentary that often accompanies release of the hard numbers each month. Changes in the law, special transfers and timing issues can all explain monthly anomalies.

However, closer looks at the individual sources, plus year-over-year and month-to-month comparisons can evidence significant trends. Sales tax revenues are by far the largest single source, making even small differences between the actual year-over-year growth and the projected annual growth something to pay close attention to. While corporate income tax collections are not as critical to the bottom line, they are a major source of revenue and have been very strong (46.7% above the target through the first two months). Another positive aspect of the short-term numbers is the modest uptick of gaming revenues (7.2% above target).

So keep in mind that the numbers will fluctuate and most probably balance out over time – if not, adjustments can and will be made to assure that Indiana maintains its prudent fiscal posture.

VIDEO: A Discussion About Northwest Indiana

NWIndianaLife.com recently spoke to our president, Kevin Brinegar, about the key issues facing the northwest Indiana business community. We appreciate the opportunity, and here is their synopsis of the 21-minute interview.

In this interview, Kevin Brinegar of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce discusses the Chamber's relationship with Northwest Indiana. He talks about how important the Region is to Indiana as a whole, given the proximity to Chicago and the variety of infrastructure in place for transportation and industry. He goes on to discuss some of the recent developments coming out of the Region, including the Illiana Expressway and how it will improve traffic flow in and out of the area, as well as the expansion of the Gary Airport, lakefront developments, and how the RDA is helping with improvements on a regional level. Next, he covers some of the positive opportunities coming out of Gary in the future, and how the revitalization efforts are helping the future of this strategically located city. Kevin then talks about the business climate in Indianapolis, and how visionary leaders across industries have helped foster a thriving area of economic growth. He attributes this growth to Indiana having one of the best, most stable climates for business growth, and how well the state has been ranked overall. He sees Indiana's economic future in the hands of the Chamber of Commerce, helping to grow the economy over long periods and directing long-term planning for the years ahead. He goes on to discuss how the Indiana Chamber of Commerce distributes information to the people of Indiana, through emails, newsletters, magazines, blogs, twitter, and more. Some plans the Chamber of Commerce have been implementing include the Indiana Vision 2025 plan and covering the cost of preschool for families to help prepare the next generation. He sees the Porter County Career and Tech Center as a model for engagement with employers as student are learning trades in school.

Throwback Thursday: This Business is Taxing

Today's edition is for all you tax enthusiasts out there. "Ahhhhhhhhh yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, it's party time."

Every year, we reach out to the various government agencies that handle tax filings and compile the Indiana Tax Calendar (here is the 2013 version), which lists the most critical tax deadlines facing Hoosier businesses.

Digging in the archives yielded the 1953 Indiana Tax Calendar (pictured). One striking difference is apparent, in that the document now is just a PDF; we don't even print it anymore.

Some interesting notes:

  • We've since removed the word "State" from "Indiana State Chamber of Commerce," lest people think we're part of the government. We are not.
  • A June 15, 1953 entry: "Dog tax penalty becomes operative. Dog subject to killing if without state tag issued by local official upon payment of tax." Yikes! That's a little harsh, 1953 society. "Sparky, where are ze papers?!?!?"
  • A June 30, 1953 entry: "Special federal tax on narcotics and marihuana due. Form 678." Modern day hippie: "Whoa, I went back in time and they taxed my weed and misspelled it, maaaaaaaaaan."

 

Chambers Assisting with Rep. Todd Young Tax Reform Tour

The Indiana Chamber is delighted to partner once again with Rep. Todd Young as he tours the state, working with local chambers to communicate the need for tax reform. A release from his office has dates and more information:

As the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee prepare to roll out reforms to the U.S. tax code, Ways and Means Committee member and Indiana Congressman Todd Young (IN-9) announced on Friday that he will embark on a statewide tour to talk about proposed changes with local businesses. The events are being hosted by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and local Chambers of Commerce in each area, and other members of the Indiana Congressional delegation will be on hand at some of the events.
 
“We haven’t fundamentally overhauled our tax system in a quarter of a century, and since the 1986 reforms our code has been larded up with provisions that only benefit narrow interests,” said Young. “The net effect is a tax code that is confusing, complex and difficult for individuals and small businesses to comply with. As we try to spur our economy, making the code simpler, fairer and flatter is key.”
 
While the events will be closed to the press to promote candid discussions, a media availability will be held at 1 p.m. local time after each roundtable. Local media will have the chance to talk with Rep. Young, other members of the delegation, and local businesses about what was discussed.
 
WHO: Congressman Todd Young (IN-9), the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, and local Chambers of Commerce
 
WHAT: Tax reform roundtable (closed to press) and media availability (open to press)
 
WHEN & WHERE:

Monday, August 12
Media Availability at 1 p.m. EDT
Indy Chamber
Chase Tower, 19th Floor
Indianapolis, IN
 
Wednesday, August 14
Media Availability at 1 p.m. EDT
Warsaw Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce
Mad Anthony’s Tap Room
113 E Center Street
Warsaw, IN
 
Friday, August 16 with Rep. Larry Bucshon (IN-8)
Media Availability at 1 p.m. CDT
Southwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce
318 Main Street, Suite 401
Evansville, IN
 
Monday, August 19 with Rep. Marlin Stutzman (IN-9)
Media Availability at 1 p.m. EDT
Ft. Wayne Chamber of Commerce
826 Ewing Street
Ft. Wayne, IN
 
Tuesday, August 20
Media Availability at 1 p.m. CDT
Northwest Indiana Forum
6100 Southport Road
Portage, IN
 
Wednesday, August 28
Media Availability at 1 p.m. EDT
One Southern Indiana
4100 Charlestown Road
New Albany, IN
 
Thursday, August 29
Media Availability at 1 p.m. EDT
Bloomington Chamber of Commerce
Uptown Café
102 E Kirkwood Avenue
Bloomington, IN

VC Numbers Look Good in Q2

PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association are the leaders in surveying venture capital investment deals and statistics. And the State Science & Technology Institute is the best at putting the numbers in perspective.

Below is part of the analysis from a strong second quarter of this year. Also, SSTI has a spreadsheet that breaks down investments by quarter over the past six years.

In the second quarter (Q2) of 2013, venture investment totaled $6.7 billion over 913 deals, according to the quarterly survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). Compared to the first quarter of 2013, the amount of venture capital investment increased 12 percent and the number of deals increased 2 percent. Although still well below venture capital investment highs in 2007, Q2 2013 had the largest total amount of investment in a year.

In total, $12.6 billion in venture investments has been made in the first half of 2013 in 1,776 deals. This represents a 3.8 percent decrease in the investment amount compared to the first half of 2012, but a slight uptick, 4 percent, in the number of deals completed.

The software and biotechnology sectors were the largest two recipients of venture capital investments. The software industry received $2.1 billion in investments, although this was a 7 percent drop from the previous quarter. Biotechnology rose 41 percent in investments to $1.3 billion in 103 deals. Other sectors receiving large totals of investments were IT ($654 million) and medical devices ($543 million).

Clean technology, which includes a range of activities across sectors, captured $364 million in 43 deals. This is a 6 percent investment decline and 31 percent deal decline, and is the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2006.

Breaking investments down into company stage, seed and early stage companies together accounted for 57 percent of deals made, while expansion stage companies had 23 percent and later stage companies had the remaining 20 percent. Early stage companies closed on $137 million in 37 deals in Q2, while early stage companies had their highest levels of investments in six quarters.

First-time financings were also up in Q2, raising 24 percent to $1.1 billion, a 10 percent increase from Q1. The first-time financings were 17 percent of total investment amounts and 33 percent of total investment deals in the quarter.

Compared to the rather pessimistic survey from the first quarter of this year, and despite a decline in clean technology investments, this Q2 report appears to offer some optimism, with more than half of the sectors surveyed increasing in investment dollars.  In addition, a 39 percent rise to $1.9 billion was invested in “internet-specific companies” in Q2, with five of the 10 largest rounds in the quarter in the internet-specific sector. This suggests venture capitalists are looking for investment possibilities in more flexible and nimble companies with less overhead and low-capital-intensive operations.

 

 

In the second quarter (Q2) of 2013, venture investment totaled $6.7 billion over 913 deals, according to the quarterly survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). Compared to the first quarter of 2013, the amount of venture capital investment increased 12 percent and the number of deals increased 2 percent. Although still well below venture capital investment highs in 2007, Q2 2013 had the largest total amount of investment in a year.

In total, $12.6 billion in venture investments has been made in the first half of 2013 in 1,776 deals. This represents a 3.8 percent decrease in the investment amount compared to the first half of 2012, but a slight uptick, 4 percent, in the number of deals completed.

The software and biotechnology sectors were the largest two recipients of venture capital investments. The software industry received $2.1 billion in investments, although this was a 7 percent drop from the previous quarter. Biotechnology rose 41 percent in investments to $1.3 billion in 103 deals. Other sectors receiving large totals of investments were IT ($654 million) and medical devices ($543 million).

Clean technology, which includes a range of activities across sectors, captured $364 million in 43 deals. This is a 6 percent investment decline and 31 percent deal decline, and is the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2006.

Breaking investments down into company stage, seed and early stage companies together accounted for 57 percent of deals made, while expansion stage companies had 23 percent and later stage companies had the remaining 20 percent. Early stage companies closed on $137 million in 37 deals in Q2, while early stage companies had their highest levels of investments in six quarters.

First-time financings were also up in Q2, raising 24 percent to $1.1 billion, a 10 percent increase from Q1. The first-time financings were 17 percent of total investment amounts and 33 percent of total investment deals in the quarter.

Compared to the rather pessimistic survey from the first quarter of this year, and despite a decline in clean technology investments, this Q2 report appears to offer some optimism, with more than half of the sectors surveyed increasing in investment dollars.  In addition, a 39 percent rise to $1.9 billion was invested in “internet-specific companies” in Q2, with five of the 10 largest rounds in the quarter in the internet-specific sector. This suggests venture capitalists are looking for investment possibilities in more flexible and nimble companies with less overhead and low-capital-intensive operations.

 

Waltz: Marketplace Fairness Act a Useful Measure

Bill Waltz, the Indiana Chamber's VP of taxation and public finance, penned the following column, which ran in The Journal-Gazette of Fort Wayne.

States have the right to tax activities that take place within their borders. States do not have the right to burden interstate commerce – unless Congress approves.

The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 involves both principles.

The act would require online sellers who have no physical presence in a state to collect sales tax from that state’s residents. It recognizes that Internet purchases take place within the buyer’s state but that compelling the seller to collect the sales tax affects interstate commerce.

The 69 U.S. senators who voted for the Marketplace Fairness Act concluded that states should be allowed to require remote sellers to collect the sales tax. But passage in the House is uncertain as opponents raise questions. The legislation should be evaluated on an objective basis.

Here are some of the statements and claims being made about the Marketplace Fairness Act :

•The Internet tax moratorium should not be lifted

•This is a “new” tax

•This will hurt small Internet businesses

•State tax administrators will abuse their power to tax out-of-state businesses

•It will be impossible for sellers to comply with the laws of 8,000 jurisdictions

•Internet businesses will move out of the United States

•Jobs will be lost

First, this has nothing to do with the 1998 federal moratorium prohibiting taxing Internet access or imposing a new tax on the conduct of business over the Internet. This is about applying existing state laws on the taxation of retail merchant transactions.

This is not a new tax. States’ sales tax is due on Internet purchases today and purchasers are legally obligated to pay. The problem is few people do so by self-reporting, shifting the burden to all those self-reporting taxpayers who do meet their legal obligations.

As for hurting small businesses, the act has a small seller exception for any business having less than $1 million in annual sales (and this threshold could be raised).

Many of the abuse objections are refuted by the text of the bill. It expressly prevents states from subjecting a seller to “any other type of taxes, other than sales and use taxes.” It further specifies that “This Act shall not be construed to create any nexus between a person and a state or locality.”

The text also addresses administrative compliance. It contains provisions on “minimum simplification requirements” to assure some uniformity in how each state identifies what is to be taxed and at what level. It calls for a single filing and single audits within any given state. The states are required to provide free software to calculate the tax. Additionally, remote sellers are shielded from liability for inadvertent noncompliance.

There will be complications with any major change in procedure, but the act is very friendly to remote sellers. Also, it is in the states’ interest to keep things as simple as possible in order to collect the tax.

As for businesses and jobs moving overseas, Internet businesses are not likely to relocate unless the costs of production motivate them to do so. Internet businesses will continue to grow and thrive in the U.S. – and create jobs – whether or not they must collect sales taxes.

The jobs focus should be on those lost today as in-state brick-and-mortar retailers have cut back due to the unfair price advantage enjoyed by online sellers.

Opponents can suggest problems where there are none, foster doubt and cater to viewpoints that have no basis in reality. But once these questions are answered fairly and objectively, there is no good reason not to support the Marketplace Fairness Act.

Gigerich: Indiana Business Climate is Good News, Bad News Scenario

Larry Gigerich of site selector Ginovus penned an informative column for Inside INdiana Business about Indiana's business climate. While we have come a long way and are currently envied by many states, there is still work to be done. He writes:

A few weeks ago, the Kauffman Foundation and Thumbtack.com released an annual ranking of states for their friendliness to small businesses. Indiana ranked 15th for 2013. The study analyzed several factors including items related to tax climate, work force development and regulatory issues. Eight-thousand small businesses were contacted for feedback regarding the study's criteria. Here is how Indiana ranked in each category.

1. Overall Friendliness: B+
2. Ease of Starting a Business: B+
3. Ease of Hiring: F
4. Regulations: C
5. Health and Safety: D
6. Employment, Labor and Hiring: C-
7. Tax Code: D
8. Licensing: A-
9. Environmental: D
10. Zoning: B-
11. Training and Networking Programs: C-

The grades given to Indiana are not surprising. Work force development and job training have been a focus of Governor Mike Pence and the legislature since the beginning of the year. Indiana's educational achievement, continuing learning for adults in the work force and availability of certification/credential programs have not been where they need to be. While progress has been made, there is still much to be done by government, educational providers, not-for-profits and the private sectors.

Indiana has been recognized as a relatively easy place to start and grow a business. This report points to that in terms of licensing, zoning and other factors affecting the launch of a new business.

The tax code ranking is a bit surprising, but the survey asked small businesses if they were paying too much in taxes for their locations. The elimination of the state inheritance tax, which impacts small and family-owned businesses, could help improve this ranking.

Indiana continues to struggle with rankings where health and environmental issues are considered. In particular, the state's obesity and smoking rates are unacceptably high. These items impact healthcare costs, number of missed days of work and quality of life. In terms of the environment, Indiana's long-term large manufacturing presence has impacted water, air and soil quality. While important steps have been taken in the areas, there is much left to be done.

The top five states for small businesses are (in order): Utah, Alabama, New Hampshire, Idaho and Texas. The bottom five are (in order): Illinois, California, Hawaii, Maine and Rhode Island.

In summary, Indiana's ranking relative to the rest of the country is good. Policymakers in the state should focus on ways to improve our weaknesses in order to move Indiana into the top 10. Due to the fact that Indiana has never been a location for large headquarters for companies, small businesses are and will continue to be the lifeblood of the state's economic growth.

New Tax Guide a Valuable Asset for Indiana Businesses

We take great pride in helping to educate our members and customers through our many publications. The latest example is the newest edition of the Indiana Taxation Handbook, a valuable resource for those who deal with Indiana tax issues.

As a result of changes in tax law and policy over the last two legislative sessions, new and revised sections of the Indiana Tax Handbook: 2013-14 Edition include:

  • Elimination of the Indiana Inheritance Tax
  • Reduction in the Indiana Corporate Income Tax
  • New consolidated filing options for Indiana businesses
  • Overview of the new rolling reassessments for real property in Indiana
  • Adjustments to the property tax appeals process, and new obstacles that must be overcome in appealing property tax assessments
  • Impact of the automatic taxpayer refunds, and where Indiana taxpayers will receive savings

This informative publication is authored by attorneys at Ice Miller, LLP and is available for $111.75 for Indiana Chamber members and $149 for non-members. Order your copy today by calling (800) 824-6885 or through our web site.

VIDEO: Pres. Brinegar Wraps up the 2013 Legislative Session

Chamber President Kevin Brinegar offers a two-minute wrap-up of the 2013 legislative session. Highlighting his review are thoughts on the new budget, tax relief and critical education and workforce development issues.

Poll Question: It’s Grading Time

We asked a few weeks ago for your opinion about Gov. Pence's income tax cut proposal and where state legislators would end up in their budget. A 5% cut divided between 2015 (3%) and 2017 (additional 2%) was not one of the options.

I guess that would fall under what was choice D (other), which received 3% of the vote. The other choices were:

  • Full 10% cut as proposed by Pence: 43%
  • 3% cut per the bill passed by the Senate: 27%
  • No tax cut, which was part of the House bill: 27%

Lawmakers have termed the overall budget as the largest tax cut ($1 billion) in the state's history. The Indiana Chamber's upcoming legislative analysis will have more details, but that does include an immediate elimination of the state inheritance tax (in fact, it makes the elimination retroactive to January 1, 2013) instead of the nine-year phase-out that was passed in 2012.

The budget, as always, was a high-profile issue but just one of the topics that garnered attention. Again, more Chamber review is on the way but our new poll question asks for your overall grade of the 2013 General Assembly. Cast your vote at the top right of this page.