GOVERNOR ENCOURAGES CITIZENS TO VOICE OPINIONS AT NEBRASKA TAX MODERNIZATION HEARINGS (With Audio)

Posted 1 year ago

By Kevin Horn

Tax Burden ImageNebraska’s tax structure will be the focus of a public hearing that will be held by the Nebraska Tax Modernization Committee in Scottsbluff today (Monday, Sept. 23).

The mission of the Tax Modernization Committee, which includes 14 members of the state legislature, is not create tax policy that’s fair, simple, and stable, while helping Nebraska compete with other states.

It also will explore how to keep the system adequate to pay for essential state services.

In an interview with KCOW Radio in Alliance, Governor Dave Heineman is encouraging Nebraskans to speak their minds on the state’s tax structure.  (Click audio link below).

The public hearing will be held Monday, September 23 at 4 pm MDT at the Harms Center located on the campus of Western Nebraka Community College in Scottsbluff.

Hearings will also be held September 24 in North Platte and September 26 in Norfolk.

Panhandle Post Image

 


  • Kevin Horn

    Panhandle Post received the following e-mail from Steve Nelson of Axtell, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, requesting submission to this story — Kevin Horn, Panhandle Post and KCOW/Double Q Country Radio, Alliance.

    “On September 23, the Legislature’s Tax Modernization Committee will hold a public hearing in Scottsbluff to hear from people in the panhandle about possible changes in state tax policy.

    While there was a lot of talk about tax reform at the state Capitol last year, the reality is that meaningful tax reform for most Nebraskans means property tax reform. One of the guiding principles of the Committee as they discuss broader tax reform is to examine equity in Nebraska’s tax system. As the tax reform discussion comes closer to home, here are few things worthy of noting about property taxes and equity:

    - Property taxes collected statewide continue to climb. Since 2002, statewide property tax
    collections have increased nearly 73 percent.

    - Property taxes are particularly hard on rural areas of the state, including the panhandle. Analysis by Nebraska Farm Bureau shows that the per-person property tax burden for residents in panhandle counties tends to be higher, and in many cases significantly higher, than the per-person property tax load when compared with Nebraska’s largely urban counties.

    - Seven of the 10 panhandle counties carry a higher per-person property tax load than individuals in the more populated counties of Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster. Only Box Butte, Dawes and Scotts Bluff counties have a lower per-person property tax burden. Sioux County alone carries a per-person property tax load nearly double that of Sarpy County, the highest per-person property tax county of the three most urban counties. The per-person tax burden in Garden, Kimball, Morrill and Deuel counties is not far behind their Sioux County neighbors.

    - Property taxes don’t consider ability to pay. While Box Butte, Dawes and Scotts Bluff counties have a lower per-person property tax burden than Sarpy County, they also carry a significantly lower per capita income level than their urban counterpart.

    - According the U.S. Census Bureau, Sarpy County’s per capita income level is $29,610, nearly $2,000 more than Cheyenne County, the panhandle’s highest per capita income county ($27,630) and $11,000 more than Dawes County, the panhandles lowest per capita income county ($18,440). In short,residents in the panhandle counties have less income to pay higher property tax bills. Tax relief that focuses on income taxes won’t provide relief to the panhandle counties that carry a heavy property tax load and have less income to be taxed to start with.

    With the Tax Modernization Committee coming to Scottsbluff September 23, panhandle residents would be well served to not only attend the public hearing, but send a strong message that property tax reform should be the primary focus of any tax reform talks, particularly when equity is a part of the equation. Without that message, the 2014 legislative session could be a repeat of 2013 where property tax relief was not center stage.”

    Steve Nelson, President
    Nebraska Farm Bureau