Nebraska’s Uncertain Future: The Struggle to Balance Property Tax Relief and Economic Viability

Business owners express concerns as proposed property tax relief bill may increase reliance on sales taxes

On Wednesday, a legislative package designed to provide property tax relief to Nebraskans was brought to the Unicameral floor for its initial round of debate. Governor Jim Pillen, who prioritized the tax package, referred to it as “historic” and “transformational.” Some state senators have likened Nebraska’s tax system to a lop-sided stool, placing too much burden on property owners. However, organizations like the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce have opposed shifting this burden to consumers through sales tax hikes.

In an effort to alleviate the burden of property taxes on Nebraskans, legislators are proposing a series of measures that have drawn mixed reactions from various stakeholders in the state. Business owners like Sarah Linden, CEO of Grateful Green, are concerned about specific sales tax increases included in the proposal. For example, a 100% tax on CBD and hemp products may deter customers and lead to lower sales tax revenue as businesses close. Linden believes these measures are punitive and will harm lower to middle-income consumers who rely on these products for medical purposes.

Meanwhile at Brewsky’s Food and Spirits, owner Brian Kitten highlighted the importance of games of skill machines in generating revenue to keep the business afloat, especially during the pandemic. However, with proposed taxes on these games set at 20%, Kitten fears losing a valuable source of income. He describes the potential impact as a “downward spiral” for his business.

As the debate continues on the floor, it remains uncertain what changes may be made to the bill before it is passed by both chambers of the Legislature. The overall goal is clear: alleviate the burden of property taxes on Nebraskans but how this is achieved is still up in the air.

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