Straight Talk From Steve: Property Tax Valuation Notices
June 15, 2023
Do you like the new valuation notice you received on your home or property? Most Nebraskans I know from Omaha to Scottsbluff are outraged over their new valuation notice, and my phone has been ringing off the hook ever since these notices went out over a week ago. The only ones who stand to benefit from these notices are those who plan to sell and move to another state with a better tax system than ours.
No matter where you look across Nebraska, property values went way up this year. They even went up at the University of Nebraska. For example, the Farmhouse Fraternity at UNL saw the valuation on their fraternity house increase from $250,000 in 2022 to $7.24 million this year and the Alpha Xi Delta Sorority saw the valuation of their sorority house increase from $246,400 to $1.56 million! All of this raises the question: "Who in the State of Nebraska will be able to pay their property taxes next year?"
What these new valuation notices prove is that our tax system is broken and it cannot be fixed. Fixing our broken tax system is like trying to put a bandage on an amputation. Nebraska needs a tourniquet, not a Band Aid! So far, all that the Legislature has managed to do within the last 30 years is to very gently slow the bleeding. The Legislature has not been able to stop the bleeding and this year the assessors hit a major artery.
The tax relief measures passed by the Legislature won't be nearly enough to reduce most Nebraskan's overall tax burden. For example, the Refundable Income Tax Credit will allow the average homeowner of a $250,000 home to claim a credit of about $1,000 on their income taxes. But, when the valuation of their property increases by 534 percent, as it did on the Alpha Xi Delta sorority house, the property owner's overall tax burden goes up, not down. In short, these tax relief measures will amount to a decrease in the amount of your increase.
Nebraskans cannot look to the federal government for any kind of tax relief. Former President Ronald Reagan once famously said that "...the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the Government and I'm here to help.'" In an effort to increase revenues for the federal government, the Biden Administration is now considering ways to tax the unrealized gains of investments. This means that if the value of your stock portfolio increases by ten percent, that ten percent would then be subject to a federal tax even though you never sold any stock. That kind of a tax would discourage people from investing and such an economic policy would run completely counter to the free-market capitalism which made America great. Nebraska's current tax system is similar to the Biden Administration's new tax proposal. The only difference is that one is for income tax while the other is for property tax.
Nebraska needs a new tax system. We need to get rid of the old tax system and replace it with something that works. The solution to our tax problems is the EPIC Option Consumption Tax, which would repeal the property tax, the state income tax, the state sales tax, and the inheritance tax and replace all of these taxes with a 7.5 percent consumption tax on services and new goods.
The value of a consumption tax, like the EPIC Option Consumption Tax, is that it is the only kind of tax which can never over-tax the people. A consumption tax can never over-tax the people because it operates on a pay-as-you-go basis. You simply pay the tax anytime you purchase a service or a new good for consumption. Used goods and business-to-business transactions would never be subject to the tax.
This year I introduced Legislation for the EPIC Option Consumption Tax, but none of these bills ever made it up to the floor for debate or a vote by State Senators. Consequently, we are now appealing to Nebraska's second House, namely the people. We have started a petition drive to put the EPIC Option Consumption Tax on the ballot in 2024. When we can get the required number of signatures to put our two Constitutional amendments on the ballot, I believe the voters will be angry enough to vote for it. Therefore, I would like to encourage each person to sign our petitions and to visit our website to learn more about the EPIC Option Consumption Tax. That website can be found at http://www.epicoption.org.
A public meeting of EPIC (Eliminate all Nebraska Property, Income, Corporate - including Inheritance Taxes) volunteers was held in Sidney last Saturday night at Dude's. The Sun-Telegraph was in attendance. Read more about this grassroots endeavor on page 6A.