Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and key state lawmakers announced a plan on Tuesday to curb rising property taxes and help control spending, calling it a "structural change" to how local governments tax Nebraska landowners. The two measures introduced in the Legislature would tighten limits on budget growth and levy increases for all local governments, and slow the rise in government-assessed cropland values across the state, the governor said Tuesday at a Capitol news conference. The bills will be sponsored by Sens. Mike Gloor of Grand Island and Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids, both of which co-chaired a joint committee last year that looked for ways to reduce Nebraska's reliance on property taxes to pay for K-12 public schools.
An Ohio Supreme Court decision made earlier this month ruled that grain storage bins are personal property pursuant to state law and may not be taxed as real property. In the case of Metamora Elevator Co. v. Fulton Cty. Bd. Of Revision (July 15, 2015), the court unanimously affirmed a ruling of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA), which determined that the actual value of property owned by Metamora Elevator Co. in Fulton County was $738,240 instead of the auditor’s assessed value of more than $1.8 million that included the storage bins. The court observed that historically the distinction between fixtures that were real property and those that were personal property was elusive. However, the General Assembly amended the definitions of “real property” and “personal property” in 1992.
When the Revenue Committee voted on the proposal to reduce the taxable value of agricultural land from 75 to 65 percent of market value on Wednesday, only two of eight members voted for it. The committee did, however, endorse a proposal to lower personal property taxes – that could include everything from farmers’ tractors to business computers. The proposal is a personal property tax credit geared more toward small businesses and the production of ag land – not the owners of ag land. In other words, the break would go to someone who owns a tractor or combine, not someone who owns a section of land. It would also go to businesses that own personal property, like machinery.
By Rebecca Helm, Consultant, Denver
Lincoln, Nebraska lawmakers released "options" to update the state's tax code for the public to review before hearings are held throughout the state. The Tax Modernization Committee is working to make the Nebraska tax code more fair, balanced and stable and will be holding public hearings in September and October. The committee is to provide a recommendations report by mid-December for Legislature to review in January.
Texas House Bill 1306 is hoping to fairly apply the rules governing how land used for agriculture is assessed when applied to smaller operations. According to the San Antonio Business Journal, the Bill aims to clarify the existing tax code pertaining to what land can be appraised as qualified agricultural land so that property taxes are based on a lower valuation. Currently, even though no minimum requirement exists, many counties require that tracts be at least five acres to obtain agricultural valuation, leaving many small operations stuck with unfair values.