In a convenience sample of over 50 residents of Madison County, very few could correctly answer a question about something they contend with on a daily basis. The question was: “In Madison County, you don’t pay 7 percent on prepared foods such as that served at restaurants, but instead pay 8 percent. What does the extra 1 percent go to?”
A large number of those polled were unaware that they pay the extra percent and those who were cognizant of it often associated it to something other than what it is allocated to with charity and welfare programs being high on their guess list.
To arrive at the correct answer, it is important to understand how the tax came to be in the first place. Indiana has 92 counties but only 12 of them (along with 13 towns) have chosen to implement what is known as the food and beverage tax since it became an option in the mid 1980s. The Indiana Code (section 6-9-26-12) states that the monies collected “shall be used by the county solely to: finance, construct, improve, equip, operate, maintain, and promote first, a civic center, and then an economic development project, if there is money not needed for a civic center … [and] …retire bonds issued, loans obtained, or lease payments incurred … to finance, construct, improve, equip, operate, maintain, or promote first, a civic center, and then an economic development project …” This expands a bit under section 13 to say that if the monies collected are not needed for a civic center, a detention facility, or the retirement of funding, then it can be used for economic development projects that:
◆ “Attract new business enterprises to the county or retain or expand existing business enterprises in the county
◆ Benefit the public health and welfare and be of public utility and benefit.
◆ Protect and increase state and local tax bases or revenues.