Property Tax Relief in Nebraska: Balancing the Uneven Stool with Sales Tax Hikes and Business Impacts

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

On Wednesday, the Unicameral floor held its first round of debate on a legislative package aimed at providing property tax relief to Nebraskans. Governor Jim Pillen, who has made this issue a priority, called it “historic” and “transformational.” However, some state senators argue that Nebraska’s tax system is like an uneven stool that puts too much pressure on property owners. Meanwhile, organizations like the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce are concerned about shifting this burden to consumers through sales tax hikes.

Business owners such as Sarah Linden of Grateful Green are worried about specific sales tax increases in the proposal. For instance, a 100% tax on CBD and hemp products may deter customers and lead to lower sales tax revenue as businesses shut down. Linden believes these measures are punitive and will harm lower to middle-income consumers who rely on these products for medical purposes.

At Brewsky’s Food and Spirits, owner Brian Kitten emphasizes the importance of games of skill machines in generating revenue for his business, 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, there is a possibility that the specifics of the bill may change, with senators expected to spend several more days tweaking the language. The overall goal of the legislative package is to reduce the burden of property taxes on Nebraskans, but different stakeholders have varying opinions on how best to achieve this goal.

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