Small Towns News

Too many unknowns in the property tax cut proposal

The Nebraska Legislature is scheduled to begin debate on LB 461 later this week. Tucked within this compilation bill, posed to cut income and corporate tax rates, is a proposal to change the way agricultural and horticultural land is valued.

While this change in ag land valuation is positioned as the property tax relief Nebraska’s agricultural community has been calling for, rural and urban residents alike should be wary.

Tax credits should help the distressed

The most effective and desirable economic development strategy for many rural communities is small entrepreneurship. Small businesses are especially important today, as opportunities to attract large employers to remote rural areas diminish.

For the past decade, the Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit has played an essential role in helping these businesses get started. Passed in 2005, the act provides tax credits to applicants for creating or expanding microbusinesses that contribute to the revitalization of economically distressed areas.

Embracing diversity to help communities thrive

The faces of rural Nebraska have changed during the past 20 years as immigrants from many countries seek to live, work and raise families in the Midwest’s small towns and wide-open spaces.

Immigrants are opening businesses, shopping, working and making an economic impact in rural Nebraska. Communities that may have slowly disappeared from the map are now thriving because of diversity. And in some communities, the minority has become the majority.

Proposal to cut income taxes misguided

In the face of a budget shortfall, some political leaders in Lincoln are clamoring to cut income taxes for the wealthiest Nebraskans.

The move would compound our real challenge. It’s property taxes that Nebraskans are asking lawmakers to look at.

The Center for Rural Affairs has long held that state revenue should be balanced among property, sales and income tax. Today, property tax accounts for 36 percent of revenue; sales tax, 30 percent; and income tax, just 26 percent.

Income tax is already the shortest of the three revenue legs.

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