Senator proposes using Property Tax Credit Fund to pay for income, property tax changes | Legislature

LINCOLN — Key Nebraska lawmakers are looking to raid the state’s Property Tax Credit Fund to pay for a broad package of income and property tax changes this year.

State Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion, the Revenue Committee chairman, outlined the possible package to committee members Monday.

He argued that the changes would encourage job creation and provide tax relief where it is most needed, in contrast to the current fund.

“The collection of sales taxes and the collection of income taxes that are used for the Property Tax Credit Fund today, I do not believe are doing an adequate job,” Smith said.

The proposal could make possible several tax changes that might otherwise be difficult during a budget shortfall.

But it would mean some Nebraska taxpayers would lose tax relief, while others gain, depending on where they live, what property they own and how much money they make.

Based on discussion among Revenue Committee members Monday and in previous executive sessions, it’s far from clear whether the package can get out of committee.

“I just hope we do no damage,” said Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus. “It’s hard to realistically talk about tax cuts when you don’t have any money.”

Sen. Brett Lindstrom of Omaha said he would like to have something for all Nebraska taxpayers but wasn’t sure what might be possible.

“I don’t know where we’re going to be when it’s all said and done,” he said.

Nebraska’s property tax credit program uses state tax dollars to offset part of the annual tax bill for property owners. The credits appear as a line on the annual property tax statement.

The program began in 2007, with a budget of $105 million. The fund was at $204 million last year and $224 million for the current year.

For 2016, all property owners got credits of $89.57 per $100,000 of valuation. The…

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