QUANDARY

WalletHub says Nebraska’s effective total state and local tax rate is 49th worst in the country. The Tax Foundation ranks our property taxes the 40th highest. They also say we are middle of the pack in terms of our sales taxes (#25) and business tax climate (#24).

Conversely, the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts our unemployment rate (2.8%) as the sixth lowest. USA Today says Nebraska is the tenth happiest state in the country. Nebraskan’s are happy like toadstools. We are kept in the dark and fed statistics.

The Legislature’s Revenue Committee wraps-up their hearings on Friday. Members have engaged testifiers with patience and civility. Even those who deserved much less.

The Committee will now work internally to deal with a high-stakes quandary. Do they significantly reduce property taxes (e.g. LB497, LB507) at the expense of increasing sales and/or income taxes? Or, will they fully fund a $1.267 billion economic development program, over 10 years, to incentivize businesses to locate/grow in Nebraska? Sense a compromise?

Homeowners and landowners want lower property taxes. Duh. Up to $700 million lower. Property taxes fund 60% of K-12 education. You can’t defund education. Teachers would march. New money must be found. Let’s say for the sake of argument…. it comes from higher sales and/or income taxes?

Watchlist

LB57 SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR

Prohibits municipalities from adopting or enforcing ordinances/regulations that expressly or effectively prohibit the short-term rental of residential properties and restrict the ability of municipalities to regulate residential properties used as short-term rentals.

The Tax Commissioner “could” enter into an agreement with an online hosting platform for short-term rentals to permit the online housing platform to collect and remit applicable sales taxes on behalf of sellers or hotel operators otherwise required to collect such taxes for transactions consummated through the online hosting platform. The Tax Commissioner will enter into agreements with online hosting platforms.

LB203 PRESENTED TO THE GOVERNOR

Amends the Music Licensing Act to add the owner of a multi-family dwelling to the definition of ‚Äúproprietor.”

The Chambers of Commerce rolled-out their business incentive package (LB720) – The ImagiNE Act. Their hurdle is two-fold: 1.) funding a 1.2 billion dollar incentive program while state tax receipts are miserable, and 2.) with unemployment at 2.8%, one would think the people pool to fill $35,000 jobs is only ankle deep.

Revenue Committee Chair, Lou Ann Linehan, is a collaborative leader. She’s tough and smart. You want her on your side in a knife fight. In time, she will bloody a few egos and deliver a compromise solution to the floor of the Legislature. But that’s just one toadstool’s opinion.

 

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