Wheels Are Turning in a Forward Direction for County Wheel Tax
Wednesday Jan 11, 2017 1:54pm
Steuben County Angola, IN
By: Sheila McCrea
Whether your registering your vehicle for the first time or renewing your registration, you will pay an excise tax and a registration fee. Customers living in certain counties and municipalities will also pay a surtax or wheel tax, and that wheel tax could be a reality for Steuben County residents. On a state level, Indiana lawmakers are already talking taxes as their 2017 legislative session has bugun. House Speaker Brian Bosma has already said multiple times that the state needs a billion dollars each year to keep the state's infrastructure in shape.
State law makers are looking at proposals that could increase the cost of gas at the pump by ten cents and hike your registration fee by $15 for starters. House Republicans say the ends justifies the means.
Indiana's gas tax has not been increased since 2003.
Steuben County officials are ready to begin the wheel tax process, which means a tax on vehicles tagged in the county. The wheel tax is a county optional tax on motor vehicles which provide revenue to counties, cities and towns for road maintenance and construction. They are sometimes known as Local Option Highway User Taxes (LOHUT).
Just over half of Indiana counties currently have a wheel tax on the books.
Although the wheel tax may be something new to Steuben County, it's nothing new to Indiana. The Indiana General Assembly first authorized counties to adopt the wheel tax with legislation in 1980. Allen, Dubois and Rush Counties were the first to adopt, with taxes first collected in 1982.
Wheel tax rates range from $5 to $40 per vehicle.
Currently in Northeast Indiana the counties of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange, Kosciusko, and Noble have a wheel tax, while the counties of Steuben and Dekalb do not presently.
Before Steuben County Officials can start collecting a wheel tax, there is a process that needs to start with the County Council having a series of public hearings as the council must pass an ordinance to adopt the proposal. It can be a 1-2 year process before any money from taxes would benefit local road projects. Many in Steuben County feel that a wheel tax could provide a sustainable amount of funds that are needed sooner than later to pay for road projects.