Poll shows more voters oppose blocking COVID-19 business tax relief

Poll shows more voters oppose blocking COVID-19 business tax relief

NET’s Fred Knapp reported on Twitter this week about a tax issue poll conducted by the campaign committee of Nebraska state Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, who is also the chair of the Revenue Committee.

According to the documents provided by the campaign, the poll was a telephone survey of 509 Nebraska voters conducted from July 14 to 17, with a margin of error of 4.9%.

The poll showed strong support for the Revenue Committee’s current approach on property tax reform, but one item that might get less attention is the voters’ response to the upcoming debate over conformity or decoupling from tax provisions included in the federal CARES Act.

On Monday, the Revenue Committee will hold a hearing on whether to change the state tax code to break away from federal emergency provisions that would allow businesses in Nebraska more ways to deduct losses, which can result in a tax refund, costing the state revenue.

Under current law, Nebraska automatically conforms to the federal tax changes, but some legislators want to decouple from this policy in an attempt to use the revenues for property tax legislation.

However, the plurality of poll respondents, 46%, said they opposed the state blocking the income tax relief provided to businesses as a result of the pandemic, even under the premise that the money would be used for property tax relief instead. Thirty-eight percent favored blocking the tax relief measures and using the money for property tax relief, while 16% were undecided.

Here’s the question voters were asked:

While this question did offer voters the attractive option of taxing businesses to reduce their property taxes, the question was also explicit that these measures are related to the federal economic response to the pandemic. The voters in this poll were not afraid to reject some other tax and spending measures, so it could be that a significant share of them saw COVID-19 relief for businesses as a priority along with property taxes, given the circumstances in the state and country.

In terms of intensity of their positions, voters who were somewhat sure of their position were statistically tied, while 25% of voters strongly opposed decoupling, and 17% strongly supported it.

It may have also occurred to some respondents (who reported themselves as mostly conservative and moderate) that outside of this hypothetical question, where voters had to choose between more property tax relief and conforming with the CARES Act, there’s no actual guarantee that decoupling and collecting more taxes on businesses would result in property taxes being reduced for Nebraskans.

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