On Property Taxes

Operating a successful real estate business for the past 30 years has given me lots of real experience dealing with land. Helping families find their dream property and turn it into a home has been my mission for over three decades. Far too often, the outrageous cost of high property taxes threatens to turn that dream into a nightmare. Every form of taxation has a disproportionate impact on some group.  Sales taxes disproportionately impact the impoverished. Income taxes disproportionately impact those who have worked hard to achieve success. Property taxes are the most stable and easiest to forecast, but they disproportionately impact the very backbone of Nebraska – our farmers and ranchers. Nebraska’s farms and ranches utilize 45 million acres — 92% of the state’s total land area. As a state, we have tried to help the agriculture industry with this tax burden. Agriculture property is assessed at 75% of market value, while all other types of property are assessed at full market value, but even with that, property taxes have become too burdensome. 

With over 77,000 square miles of land, Nebraska has a lot of property and we rank 8th nationally in highest real-estate property tax rates.  In 2019, that was nearly $4.4 billion in total property taxes levied! Living in the corner of Nebraska with Iowa, Kansas and Missouri close by, I know firsthand the competitive challenges of high property taxes. Nebraska property tax rates are 13% higher than Iowa, 26% higher than Kansas and 82% higher than Missouri! This makes it hard to recruit new workers and businesses into our state and the shackles of higher taxes make it harder for the agricultural industry to be competitive with neighboring states.

Complicating the matter is that property taxes are the largest source of general revenue for Nebraska local governments and for our schools. We believe in local control and local solutions and we primarily fund that through property taxes.

The strategy to fix our property tax fiasco must be a four-legged stool: 

  1. Develop a long-term formula to adequately fund our public schools.
  2. Fairly and accurately assess property values.
  3. Ensure an efficient and equitable tax code with revenue streams coming from property, sales, and income taxes.
  4. Slash runaway spending, eliminate waste, and consolidate duplication of services wherever possible.

That’s a tall list to tackle — but the easiest place to start is by growing our economy. New businesses, more jobs and more workers mean that sales and income taxes will help give us flexibility to tackle property taxes.
As your senator, I will be a strong voice fighting for lower property taxes and a strong economy! Join me in this important fight.

To dialogue with me about this important issue or to learn more, visit my website at: www.PalmtagForNebraska.com.