Every year the Lincoln Independent Business Association Legislative Action Team looks at new ideas to help our community. Often those ideas are centered on making our city and state more tax-friendly. Below are some of the priorities we will be talking to Senators about when they meet in January.
Eliminate the Personal Property Tax on Nebraska Businesses. Although the amount of personal property taxes paid has gone down as a result of LB 259, in 2014, Nebraska businesses paid more than $217 million in personal property taxes. The personal property tax not only costs businesses financially, but it is also costly in terms of the time and effort necessary to complete and file the appropriate tax returns, which are filed individually in each county in which a business owns personal property. Many of Nebraska’s nearby states do not impose any tax on personal property, including Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota. Indeed, experts report that there has been a national trend to shift away from personal property taxes, including states like Ohio and Michigan that have phased out their personal property tax. LIBA supports the elimination of the personal property tax and asks Nebraska legislators to look for ways to phase out this tax that directly impacts Nebraska’s existing and new businesses.
Prevent the Issuance of Public Debt without a Vote of the People. There seems to be a trend among local government entities in the Lincoln area where elected leaders are willing to pursue the issuance of bonds – and in turn incur public debt obligations – without a vote of the people. Since 2001, the City of Lincoln has issued more than $40 million of certificates of participation bonds without approval of the public under a special provision in statute that allows them to do this. LIBA firmly believes that public debt should not be incurred except by a vote of the people who will be on the hook for making future payments, with interest. LIBA believes that the continued issuance of bonds by our elected officials without vote of the people needs to be stopped and is committed to pursuing legislation that will limit or reduce this practice, and will work to stop any effort to expand this authority.
Reduce Nebraska’s Income Tax. Nebraska must be competitive when it comes to our income tax rates on individuals and businesses. High income tax rates have a detrimental impact on our economy by reducing the amount of money our businesses have to pay workers and reducing the amount of money we have to spend locally. The first step in improving our economy in Nebraska should be to reduce income tax rates to a level that would make us more competitive nationally.
Increase Transparency for Schools and School Board Members’ Salaries. Nebraska’s schools receive a large portion of property taxes to make improvements to schools and keep them running smoothly. Adding a line-item budget or check register to public school districts’ websites would increase transparency in how property taxes and other funds are spent.
Allow Government Levies to be Lowered by a Vote of the People. Give Nebraskans the local power to lower any government levy with a vote of the people. This would truly be local control. LIBA would be willing to discuss a limit on the amount the levy could go down, as well as a limitation that levies could be adjusted only one time per three-year period.
LIBA studies and promotes these types of issues that are important to businesses and our community. If you have an interest in joining LIBA, please call me at (402) 466-3419. LIBA membership is not restricted to just businesses. We also have “individual” memberships for those who want to help influence our local government decisions.
For more information on LIBA, visit Liba.org.