Blueprint Nebraska Makes Argument to Cut Income Taxes

By 
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

Blueprint Nebraska released a report outlining four principles that it wants to guide tax reform efforts in Nebraska.

Those principles are:

• Eliminate or significantly reduce personal and corporate income taxes.

• Broaden the sales tax base and restructure the sales tax system to reflect an increasingly service-dominated economy.

• Keep future growth of property taxes in check by making constructive changes to the design and escalation parameters of the property-tax assessment system.

• Minimize the stagnant economic effect of other local and state taxes and fees.

Blueprint Nebraska expects to issue a final report on tax modernization later this year that is consistent with its goals for growing the state’s economy and its workforce. “Nebraska stands poised and positioned for unprecedented economic growth and success,” Blueprint Nebraska President Jim Smith said in a news release. “Tax modernization and reform, as part of the comprehensive Blueprint Nebraska plan, offers the best path for seizing this opportunity. Such an initiative will boost statewide economic competitiveness, growth and prosperity as reflected in higher wages, increased jobs and stronger investment by current and prospective employers.”

Blueprint Nebraska was created to address Nebraska’s need for talented workers. Last year, the organization outlined its five goals by 2030: pushing Nebraska into the top three states to live based on national rankings; creating 25,000 jobs; growing the average annual income of Nebraskans by $15,000; adding 43,000 more 18- to 34-year-old residents; and boosting research and development by $200 million annually.

A realignment of the state’s tax structure was discussed last year as one of the group’s 15 initiatives, which also included addressing the state’s business incentives structure and how education is funded.

The white papers were authored by the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation and David Brunori of RSM US LLC, a research professor of public policy at the George Washington University.

Nebraska’s OpenSky Policy Institute criticized the recommendation to shift the tax burden for the state toward sales tax.

“The tax changes discussed in the Tax Foundation report would amount to a tax cut for the wealthy that would be paid for by middle- and low-income Nebraskans, either in the form of higher taxes or cuts to schools, roads and other services they rely on,” OpenSky Executive Director Renee Fry said in a statement. “This would be another gut punch for everyday Nebraskans who will already see major future cuts to services they need thanks to LB 1107 – the tax bill the Legislature passed in August that also will predominantly benefit the wealthy.”

The last legislative session featured a protracted debate over how to lower property taxes. Lawmakers passed a package that provided a refundable tax credit for property taxes paid to schools.

Find the white papers at blueprint-nebraska.org.

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