Victory! Software-as-a-Service Bill Set to Become Law

This week, the Senate unanimously approved the House changes to Senate Bill 257 (Sales Tax on Software). This bill began as a top Indiana Chamber goal; it was embraced by the administration and made a priority of the Governor, the Senate got it introduced and rolling, then the House took good legislation and made it even better.

The Senate concurrence vote means the bill is on its way to Gov. Holcomb and there will be SaaS (software as a service) tax clarity in Indiana!

This is exactly what the Indiana Chamber has been working toward since last summer and it is good news for the SaaS industry. Senate Bill 257 is a straightforward piece of legislation that can reap very real economic benefits for the state. We thank legislators for listening to our members and taking this important step forward to demonstrate Indiana’s commitment to embracing the growth of the SaaS industry. The legislation puts Indiana in a very favorable position to attract more and more of this burgeoning business to our state.

Tech Talk: MPH, IoT Hack and Coding Events on Tap

One of the initial successes of the Indiana Chamber’s tech policy committee was securing funding for the state’s Management Performance Hub (MPH) during the 2017 legislative session.

MPH is an integrated system that links government agency data and allows for data-driven analytics and research. Efforts thus far have yielded a variety of results and the potential is promising.

Data Day 2018 (10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on March 6 in the north atrium of the Statehouse) is an opportunity to learn where innovation is happening and to share ideas for future projects.

Public safety is the theme of the April 20-21 AT&T IoT Civic Hackathon. Bill Soards reports more than $15,000 in prizes will be awarded, nearly 200 attendees are already registered, 10 speakers (including the commissioner of the Boston Police Department during the 2013 marathon bombing) are confirmed and momentum continues to build for the third annual event.

From the AT&T folks: Hang out with us as we hack and build IoT apps and projects, get fed, compete for prizes across different categories and, most importantly, meet new people and scout for teammates to work on new or current projects. Bring your laptop, skills and ideas for 24 hours of learning, coding and hacking.

The new IoT lab in Fishers will be the primary location, with additional activities at Launch Fishers.

Indy.Code() is one of many new entries into the Indiana technology conference scene. Full-day workshops and more than 100 breakout sessions are included (April 16-18 at the Indiana Convention Center), along with a keynote address by Indianapolis education technology entrepreneur Nick Birch (Eleven Fifty Academy and PropelUp).



Technology on Tap at Safety Conference, March 12-14

Technology has advanced in the workplace and not only from the standpoint of evolving the products or processes used in specific industries. Advanced technology has also entered the world of workplace safety.

An emphasis on technology in safety is one of the educational tracks at this year’s Indiana Safety and Health Conference & Expo.

For example, one of the sessions focuses on the impact of virtual reality on safety training. The use of virtual reality in the workplace can allow workers to practice their skills, while lowering costs and increasing revenue. It also displays a commitment to worker safety.

Several other technology-focused sessions include effective safety management, management safety principles and solutions, updates in education and consulting skills, and INSafe/safety fundamentals.

The conference is less than two weeks away, but there is still time to register. Sending two or more people allows for a 20% discount using promo code “Group20” at checkout.

For a complete list of educational tracks and schedule of events, visit

The 2018 Indiana Safety and Health Conference & Expo is presented by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Central Indiana Chapter of American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), in partnership with INSafe and the Coalition for Construction Safety. Gibson is the conference sponsor.

SaaS Bill Even Better After Amendments

Senate Bill 257 (Sales Tax on Software) took a very positive turn this week when it was amended by the House Ways and Means Committee. After hearing considerable testimony from members of the Chamber’s Technology and Innovation Policy Committee in a hearing last week, it appears the message was received! That message: It would be beneficial to the software industry to provide simple clarity regarding the exempt status of software as a service (SaaS).

The Ways and Means Committee amendment deleted a good amount of language that we were concerned could raise new questions and run counter to the objective of reducing uncertainty about software transactions.

These changes make clear that it is only in the case where prewritten software is delivered electronically (downloaded) that the transaction is considered a retail sale subject to sales tax. And when someone buys the right to remotely access software, the transaction is not taxed. Through these positive amendments, the bill now more directly serves the objective of clarifying that SaaS transactions – those involving the use of software to essentially provide a service – are excluded from taxation.

The Indiana Chamber has been making the case for the need to eliminate the previously existing ambiguous language and convincing legislators that a clear, simple, straightforward piece of legislation can reap very real economic benefits. Our efforts are reflected in this much streamlined version of SB 257. We thank the Ways and Means Committee for listening to our members and taking this important step forward to demonstrate the Legislature’s commitment to embracing the growth of the SaaS industry in Indiana. The revised bill puts Indiana in a very favorable position to attract more and more of this burgeoning industry to our state.

Tech Talk: Staking Their Claim to Be Among the ‘Best’

Technology organizations have traditionally fared well in the annual Best Places to Work (BPTW) in Indiana program, including taking top honors several times in its 12-year history.

In recent years, the number of technology companies making the list has significantly increased. Two reasons, both fairly obvious: Tech is continually becoming a bigger part of our state’s economy and more businesses in this sector are entering the program to gain the valuable feedback that all participants receive.

The 2018 BPTW list was unveiled earlier this week. Twenty-six of the 125 honorees self-identified as being in the tech industry; a few others chose consulting or related fields, but do most of their work in the tech/innovation areas.

Two of the BPTW Hall of Fame organizations (making the list at least eight years of the now 13 years of the program) are Salesforce (ExactTarget in the early days) and Software Engineering Professionals.

But, as noted earlier, the last few years have seen the addition of so many tech start-ups or national companies establishing a strong Indiana presence. The Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine featured four BPTW newcomers in 2017. Among the first-time winners in 2018: Brite Systems, Carbonite, ClearObject, Clinical Architecture, ESCO Communications, Greenlight Guru, Kronos, OrthoPediatrics, Perficient, Sigstr and Springbuk.

Here’s the 2018 list, in alphabetical order, for the four employer size categories. The celebration, and release of the final rankings, takes place on May 3 at the Indiana Convention Center. BizVoice will have the details about the outstanding workplace cultures at all the winners in its May-June issue.

Congratulations to all the winners. Learn more about the program and prepare to enter for 2019.

Tech Talk: Making Progress at the Statehouse

An Indiana General Assembly analysis at the midway point of the session is always a bit tricky. We can tell you the current status of legislation, but with the caution that more negotiations, compromises and refinements are on the way.

Clarifying the tax status of software as a service (SaaS) is among the high-priority items. Bill Waltz, our tax policy expert, shares this insightful update:

Bill Waltz

As is often the case, the House and the Senate each have their own ideas on how best to address big issues. That is the current circumstance regarding the taxability of software utilized as the means of providing a service. Obtaining greater clarity on this subject is a priority of the Chamber and the Governor.

Senate Bill 257 embodies the efforts of the administration to clarify tax law in this arena. It was largely formulated by the Department of Revenue (DOR) and the Office of Management and Budget to serve as guidance for what is taxable and what is not. The bill is basically a codification of recent DOR rulings interpreting and applying its own information bulletin, which outlines a complicated set of factors and tests. The legislation is focused on what constitutes a retail transaction (sale) of a tangible good.

Essentially, the position of DOR is to tax the sale of prewritten off-the-shelf type software, including such software even if it is downloaded or accessed over the internet. But if it is customized software or software utilized in connection with what is primarily a service to a customer, it is omitted from the new statute and deemed not taxable.

The determinations in gray areas will remain fact sensitive, but the language is intended to make it clearer that software services are not taxable. The statutory provisions should operate to make people in the SaaS industry more comfortable in concluding that they do not need to collect sales tax, unless they are engaged in a transaction that falls squarely into the retail product sale category as set out in the legislation.

On the other hand, HB 1316 takes a different approach. It uses similar language as is in SB 257 but adds several unique twists to the picture. First, it creates a new lesser rate for prewritten off-the-shelf type of software – with the apparent objective of identifying and monitoring the tax revenues associated with these transactions. It excludes transactions where the software is acquired by a business to perform its core business purpose. This business-to-business exemption component is of course a very positive thing and should be embraced. Finally, it looks to the long term potential of sales involving software as the industry continues to expand, plus creates a trigger reducing the standard sales tax rate for when total collections exceed $250 million (a threshold so high that it is hardly foreseeable in the near future.)

Perhaps it makes the most sense to combine the good pieces of these competing bills to produce the best end result. The Chamber sees much merit in doing all that is possible to clarify the state of the law regarding SaaS as is addressed in the Senate bill. This is needed and would be a positive step. But while unique aspects of the House bill present some real concerns, it also includes the most solid of tax principles – don’t tax business inputs. Exempting business-to-business transactions would prove a terrific encouragement to the SaaS industry to conduct their businesses in Indiana.

In the second half of the session, the Chamber will be leading the charge to resolve the SaaS clarification issue to the fullest extent possible.

A variety of other tech policy priorities are still in play. Here is a brief summary.

Video: Midterm Evaluation of the Indiana General Assembly

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar provides a midterm evaluation of the 2018 Indiana General Assembly. Among the key bills that did not survive the first half of the session: raising the smoking age from 18 to 21 (a common-sense step for dealing with health care costs and lost productivity that causes more than $6 billion in annual impact). In addition, an effort to modernize the state’s local government system by consolidating the smallest townships was not brought for a vote.

Areas that are still a work in progress include reforming the state’s workforce development programs, incorporating computer science requirements into schools, clarifying tax treatment for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and continuing to move forward on long-term water resource management.

Tech Talk: Planning Ahead for Big Events

There is no shortage of tech-related conferences and events throughout Indiana. To help you plan ahead, here is an update on three important ones upcoming this spring:

Although work is already taking place at the Indiana IoT Lab in Fishers, the official grand opening will be March 21. More than 50 companies are on board at the facility, where innovation and collaboration will meet to advance the connections between Indiana businesses and Internet of Things technology.

The AT&T IoT Civic Hackathon will return April 20-21 at the Indiana IoT Lab and Launch Fishers. The focus of the third annual Hackathon will be improving first responder technology and public safety. Among the many guest speakers: former Boston Police Department commissioner Ed Davis and Indiana congresswoman Susan Brooks.

The Indiana Chamber’s inaugural Cyber Security Conference is set for May 1 at the Indiana Chamber Conference Center. Protecting company information from ever-increasing sophisticated attacks is vital for all organizations. Best practices in cyber security and data privacy will be featured. Registration is open and sponsorship opportunities remain.

Save the Date

Tech Talk: Catching Up on Some Conversations


Two of the focus areas of the Indiana Chamber’s EchoChamber podcast are education and technology. Both take center stage in the early months of 2018.

Two conversations – with Marian University President Dan Elsener and WGU Indiana Chancellor Allison Barber – are available now. Three more to come feature Trine University President Earl Brooks (January 30), Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Bob Stutz (date to be scheduled) and South Bend’s Rich Carlton, president and COO of Data Realty (February 27).

Innovation is one of the themes that carries throughout these discussions. Elsener was greeted with a great deal of skepticism when he announced plans to start a medical school at the private Indianapolis university. Its first graduates came in 2017. That is among a variety of initiatives that has Marian well on the way to doubling in size by 2025.

WGU Indiana brought a new online, competency-based approach when it became the state’s eighth public university in 2010. It offers an avenue for working students (80% are employed full time) to advance their skills and earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Trine has expanded its academic and athletic offerings, with significant growth both geographically and in enrollment.

Stutz has touted Indiana’s tech environment since his arrival in 2016. Carlton is passionate about data management and community development. We know you will enjoy their insights and getting to know them a little better.

You can listen to all EchoChamber conversations online. Subscribe at iTunes, GooglePlay or wherever you get your podcasts to be notified about the latest episode. Also, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts.

Tech Talk: Seeking Further Legislative Progress


Legislators returned to the Statehouse one week ago for the “short” session of the Indiana General Assembly. That means adjournment must occur no later than March 14 and there is no budget to construct as the current two-year plan was put into place in 2017.

Technology and innovation issues, however, will be on the table. This follows some early successes in 2017 (see Page 5 of the comprehensive 2017 Final Legislative Report) that included establishment of the Next Level Fund, resources for the Management and Performance Hub, enhanced broadband connectivity and more.

The Indiana Technology and Innovation Council Policy Committee, led by John McDonald of ClearObject and Bill Soards of AT&T Indiana, worked through the remainder of 2017 to craft new and revised policy positions moving forward. They were the focus of much of the discussion at the second Tech Policy Summit in early December and in meetings with legislative and executive branch leaders.

We enter the new session cautiously optimistic of continued progress. Among the key topics: clarity of tax treatment of software-as-a-service (SaaS), computer science education requirements for students and development of an autonomous vehicles policy.

Browse the following to become more informed of both key tech/innovation priorities and the Indiana Chamber’s broader focus:

Tech and Innovation Legislative Business Issues

Tech, Innovation and Indiana’s Future Economy (two-page overview of why these policy priorities are so important)

2018 Indiana Chamber Top Legislative Priorities

Indiana Chamber Top Policy Victories

Additionally, TechPoint is accepting applications for the 19th annual Mira Awards honoring ‘the best of tech in Indiana.’ The Mira Awards are like Indiana’s Oscars for technology with award categories recognizing the people, products and companies that make our community so special.

Applications are due January 19. Visit to apply. This year’s black-tie gala celebration will be held Saturday, April 28, at the JW Marriott – Indianapolis.

You can learn more about this year’s upcoming Mira Awards from the official awards program launch press release.