LINCOLN — What’s the number one issue with Nebraskans? Senator Tom Briese of Boone, says it’s property tax reform.
“Because everywhere I go folks are concerned about their property tax burden,” Briese said. “And when you look at the numbers, you can understand why people have a lot of angst over the property tax situation.”
Those numbers he mentioned… well property tax on agricultural land has soared by nearly 164 percent in the last decade according to the Nebraska Department of Revenue. Additionally, a poll sponsored by the interest group Reform for Nebraska’s Future says 62 percent of Nebraskans think property taxes are too high, compared to only 14 percent indicating income tax and just four percent identifying sales taxes.
Governor Pete Ricketts proposed a property tax reform plan would switch from a system that relies on land sale prices to value property to one that focuses on how much income it could potentially produce. If such a system were in place this year, it would have reduced the statewide taxable value of Nebraska’s agricultural land by 2 percent.
Briese says that isn’t enough. He introduced two bills in the legislature to address the issue. LB 312 is a one cent increase in sales tax rate, with a portion of funds going to earned income credit and the remaining balance going to the property tax credit fund… which would provide relief to all property owners.
“What I’ve tried to design here is a system of tax relief that is driven by principles of fairness and consistency and not by special interests,” Briese said.
His second bill, LB 313 expands the sales tax base by bringing more goods and services into the base. Those funds would be distributed the same way as his other bill.
Briese, like many farm groups, support the governor’s proposal, but thinks it needs to go further.
“We can work around the edges on property tax relief, and I support those efforts, but what I’ve proposed here is something that I believe will give Nebraskans the property tax relief that they’re demanding and the property tax relief that they deserve,” Briese said.
Briese’s bills are scheduled for a hearing before the Revenue Committee on March 1st.