Feb. 10: Revenue Committee hears property tax transparency proposal

Feb. 10: Revenue Committee hears property tax transparency proposal

NEWS RELEASE from the Platte Institute

Contact: Adam Weinberg
Mobile: (402) 500-0209

TODAY: Revenue Committee hears property tax transparency proposal
Poll shows 77% of Nebraskans want to be notified about tax hearings

LINCOLN, NE – Today, Platte Institute Policy Director Sarah Curry will testify in support of Sen. Ben Hansen’s Legislative Bill 644 before the Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee. Curry’s written testimony is available at PlatteInstitute.org/Testimony. The hearing will be held in State Capitol room 1524 at 9:30 a.m. Central Time. LB644 is currently the last bill on the agenda. A schedule of hearing livestreams is provided by NET Nebraska here.

LB644 would adopt a property tax policy known as Truth in Taxation in Nebraska. Under Truth in Taxation requirements, local property taxpayers are provided a direct notification, by mail, when political subdivisions are set to hold public hearings where property tax increases resulting from rising valuations are decided. A diagram detailing the process is available here.

LB644 proposes that local political subdivisions seeking a property tax increase must hold a joint public hearing in their county on the proposal between August 20 and before September 20. The hearing would have to be held after 6 p.m. and permit public comment.

Hearing notices would be delivered as postcards, the cost of which would be shared by the political subdivisions seeking an increase their tax asking. The postcard would detail the tax levy rate that would leave property tax revenues at current levels, the higher tax levy subdivisions are seeking to adopt at the hearing, and the percentage change in the subdivision’s operating budget that would result from the proposed asking.

In 2019, the Unicameral unanimously adopted LB103, which already requires separate hearings and votes to be held to maintain current levy rates when property tax revenue will increase as a result of rising valuations. However, under current law, hearing notices must only be publicized in a local newspaper. A new Platte Institute poll shows the majority of voters don’t know about the public hearing requirements and support receiving a direct notification by mail.

The survey was taken in late January 2021 and asked 862 active, likely Nebraska voters about a range of property tax-related questions. The margin of error was 3.34%. Forty-four percent of respondents said they were aware of the requirement for local political subdivisions to hold hearings related to property tax increases, while 39% said they didn’t know, and 18% were unsure.

When survey respondents were asked if they would support requiring local governments to inform taxpayers by mail about the property tax hearings, a combined 77% said they would support that change, with 52% strongly supporting the proposal, and 25% supporting the idea somewhat. Ten percent were opposed (6% somewhat, 4% strongly), and 13% were unsure.

Broken down by category, Truth in Taxation received more than 70% total support among every political affiliation and demographic group surveyed. The poll results, script, and methodology are available for download on the Platte Institute website.

“LB644 takes the Legislature’s previous transparency and accountability measure in LB103 and provides taxpayers with a stronger voice in how local property tax askings are set by providing the date, time, and location of a public meeting where proposed property tax increases will be heard. It allows more concerned Nebraskans to be included in the process of local control,” said Curry

Sarah Curry is available for comment on this story. For interviews, please contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 500-0209 or aweinberg@platteinstitute.org.

The Platte Institute advances policies that remove barriers to growth and opportunity in Nebraska. More media resources are available at PlatteInstitute.org/Media

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