INDIANAPOLIS—On Tuesday, Senate Bill 275 authored by State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) passed out of the Senate Tax and Fiscal Committee with unanimous support. If approved into law, the bill would create a tax amnesty program for participating counties, waiving the penalty and interest of delinquent taxes. Sen. Melton released the following statement on the passage of his bill:

“Having this bill pass out of committee with overwhelming and bipartisan support is encouraging,” Sen. Melton said. “This is an important proposal that ultimately serves to benefit both the property owners who owe taxes and the municipalities that are seeking to collect revenue to redirect into the community. Right now, because of the pandemic, our schools, cities and towns are struggling to provide increased services and assistance with less revenue, and this bill would help with that.”

By waiving the interest and penalties fees added on to delinquent taxes, property owners have an increased chance to be able to pay back the funds they owe. Right now, in Lake County, there is currently $101,894,311 worth of accrued delinquent taxes and $125,350,974 in interest and penalty fees. Statewide, delinquents taxes total at $388,787,436 and there is another $197,715,775 in added penalty and interest fees.

“During these difficult times, it’s extremely important that we take steps to relieve people of unnecessary financial burdens,” Sen. Melton said. “This bill helps to do that, and I’m grateful to see it receiving support. I also want to specifically thank Chairman Holdman for visiting my district this summer to better understand the issues related to vacant and abandoned properties and serial delinquent taxpayers. It’s my hope to work with him and my other colleagues to help address blight and economic development in my district, and provide assistance to communities in need.”

Gary’s 4th District Councilwoman and Ways and Means Committee Chair, Tai Adkins, had the following response to Sen. Melton’s bill passage:

“As we continue to combat this pandemic, it’s critical that we’re working to help those who are struggling, while also making sure our municipalities have the necessary funds to function operationally,” Councilwoman Adkins said. “That’s why I’m very supportive of Sen. Melton’s bill and pleased to see it moving through the statehouse. The objective is by eliminating high interest on taxes that individuals owe, this will allow them the ability to pay back more easily what they owe without those additional burdensome fees. This will benefit the city by providing a means to get properties back onto the tax roll and ultimately that revenue will be redirected into our community where it is needed the most.”