A Nebraska think tank has developed a set of recommendations to help lower property taxes for businesses and individuals. Property tax reform will be a major topic for the Nebraska legislative session that began January 7, 2015.
The Platte Institute for Economic Research issued a study titled: "Strong Roots Nebraska, a Stable Platform for Growth". The report suggests lawmakers freeze property tax rates and "seriously question" all mandates on local governments to lower their costs.
Here are some questions and answers about the report.
Q: Can Nebraska afford tax relief?
A: Nebraska can't afford not to enact meaningful tax relief. Neighboring states have lower taxes, which means Nebraska is giving away opportunities for growth.
Q: Does the Strong Roots Nebraska plan protect the state's Cash Reserve Fund?
A: State cash reserves are at record levels. At the end of November, the cash reserve fund was projected to reach $769 million by the end of the fiscal year. The Strong Roots Nebraska plan requires only $40 million per year for the first two years. The plan does not call for the use of cash reserves at all after the first two years.
Q: Can Nebraska cut taxes without reducing education funding?
A: Yes. Nebraska's state budget was more than $8.1 billion for the fiscal year ending in June 2014. Of that, $1.49 billion was appropriated to the state Department of Education. The tax cuts proposed in the Strong Roots Nebraska plan are so modest that they amount to less than one half of one percent of the state budget each year.
Q: Does tax relief favor large corporations over small businesses?
A: While some larger companies may receive corporate tax incentives for doing business in Nebraska, a friendlier tax code will make doing business more attractive and rewarding for companies of all sizes. A lower tax burden for small businesses frees up money to invest in creating and expanding businesses, training workers, and purchasing equipment that helps companies become more productive.