Truth in Taxation bill awaits governor’s signature

Truth in Taxation bill awaits governor’s signature

Today, the Legislature passed Sen. Ben Hansen’s LB644 – often referred to as “the postcard bill” in the Legislature. When it’s signed into law, Nebraska will be the third state to adopt a comprehensive Truth in Taxation law, which requires direct notification of property taxpayers, by mail, about proposals for local property tax increases.

As amended, the requirement will apply to cities, counties, school districts, and community colleges that seek an annual property tax increase greater than 2%, plus the real growth within the political subdivision. That includes factors like new construction, improvements and additions to existing buildings, annexation, and tax increment financing projects.

Nebraska follows Kansas, whose own Truth in Taxation bill was signed into law on March 26, and Utah, which has had this type of legislation in place for more than 30 years.

Increasing property taxes are a common concern right now across states that have higher tax rates on real estate, like Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas, as home values continue their rapid rise.

LB644 adds teeth to a law the Legislature passed in 2019, Sen. Lou Ann Linehan’s LB103. That bill required political subdivisions to hold public hearings separate from their annual budget hearings in order to collect additional revenue resulting from rising property valuations. Without the added transparency of the additional hearing and board vote, subdivisions would have to reduce their tax levies to a revenue-neutral rate.

States including Tennessee and Iowa also have similar laws.

Unfortunately, not all political subdivisions in Nebraska were complying with LB103, and Platte Institute polling suggests most members of the public did not notice the legally-required announcements of the public hearings, which are supposed to be published in a local newspaper.

The bill now heads to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ desk for his signature.

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