LINCOLN, NEB. – Nebraska Farm Bureau offered its support for a pair of legislative proposals that would help alleviate the growing property tax burden on Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. Nebraska farmers and ranchers pay the third highest property tax bill in the nation and pay roughly 30 percent of Nebraska’s total property taxes statewide despite accounting for less than three percent of the state’s population. The figures were shared with members of the Nebraska Legislature’s Revenue Committee Feb. 7 during Farm Bureau testimony in support of bills that would lower the valuation of agricultural land for tax purposes.
“Farmers are more than willing to help fund schools, roads and other local infrastructure, but we have reached a point where the bulk majority of that responsibility and the associated tax burden have shifted heavily onto the backs of agriculture landowners,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson.
Since 2006 agricultural land values have skyrocketed in comparison to other property types including an 80 percent increase in agricultural valuations since 2008 alone.
“The benefit associated with valuation growth on agricultural land is rarely recognized by active farmers because you only realize the increase in land value if you sell it, which is a rarity for those using the land to raise agriculture commodities. Growth in valuations generally only translates into higher property tax bills,” said Nelson.
Legislative Bills 670 and 813 would both lower the value of agricultural land for taxation purposes from the current rate of 75 percent of market value to 65 percent of market value. Farmers would continue to pay property taxes on their farm machinery and equipment and pay 100 percent of market values on residential property.
“Nebraska taxes agricultural land at one of the highest rates in the Midwest putting Nebraskans at a distinct competitive disadvantage with neighboring farmers across state lines. We have a major issue of inequity right now that can be addressed by lowering the value of agricultural land,” said Nelson.
In October, Nebraska Farm Bureau shared a three-year plan with the Legislature’s Tax Modernization Committee to reduce statewide property taxes by $405 million annually for all Nebraskans. Part of the proposal included lowering the value of agricultural land.