Nebraska Property Taxes are Bad Economic Policy
Local Economic Organizations Fail to See It
Property taxes are probably the most common tax complaint but too often, many of the economic organizations offering tax ideas, keep coming up short on property taxes. I will not name the organizations involved and will avoid mentioning individuals where possible. However, the Blue Print Nebraska idea has stalled largely because it does nothing about property tax. See Nebraska Examiner article at link below:
Governor Ricketts has been a good governor, but when he hits Charles Herbster on not paying his property taxes, Ricketts leaves many people, such as me, sore. Farmers and ranchers are easily paying 10 times the property tax of urban residents. Late payments are common and are subject to a very high and generous interest fee at 14 percent. Also, the property can be subject to a tax lien. If you don’t pay the tax, someone can get your property for merely the cost of the unpaid taxes. Rural property owners know this which makes Ricketts criticism of Herbster extremely tone deaf and emboldens my likes for Herbster.
Property taxes follow us everywhere. On the May 10th ballot an Omaha tax bond issue will be on the ballot and this type of bonding is what keeps property taxes high and reductions rare. At the same time, the proposal for a new Mutual of Omaha building and Streetcar will never come into reality without Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) which means the high property taxes are an obstacle to development. No fairness and no recognition of the problem of property taxes.
Local school districts are now becoming substantially concerned when local development cuts into their property tax revenue. Westside School District has already suffered such problems. The problem of property taxes is stabbing the schools in the eye, but they are still reluctant to call for change or reform. Omaha has a housing shortage and the property taxes contribute to it. See this story about the shortage at link below:
This is why people are gravitating to the EPIC Consumption tax. People’s personal property should not be held hostage by the government. Opportunities to improve the community should not require a TIF. Late payers of such taxes should not be subject to shame and lost of property by someone paying a tiny fee. By putting the taxation on consumption, Nebraska can vastly revitalize its economy. So see
So what should a Douglas County Assessor do? If I was assessor, I would have an across the board property evaluation of a 1 percent increase every year as long as I was assessor. When property owners contest such evaluations, I would be generous in adjusting the evaluation downwards. This would embolden people to realize how property taxes impact their own wealth.
Also, if property taxes are to continue, I think there should be better efforts to help those who are eligible for homestead exemptions. Also, there should be a way for people to contribute to help those facing serious difficulties in paying property taxes. People with hardships should be able to apply for assistance with the property tax payments. Some programs may already exist but the Assessor should make such options more visible.