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Scottsbluff residents hear proposals for new tax plans

Scottsbluff residents hear proposals for new tax plans

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Local taxpayers converged on the Midwest Theater on Tuesday evening to learn more about the potential future of the state’s tax system. State Sen. Steve Erdman and former State Sen. Jim Smith presented their plans for reforming Nebraska’s taxes to an audience of around 70. The presentation, titled “Taxpayers Decide: Two Visions for Nebraska Tax Reform,” was the first of three events held on consecutive days in cities across the state. It was presented by the Platte Institute for Economic Research.

Smith, the Platte Institute’s chief strategy officer, showcased the Blueprint Nebraska Tax Modernization Plan, one of 15 Blueprint Nebraska initiatives for revitalizing the state. Other initiatives include reforming education and changing the state’s motto. Smith said these proposals would make living in the state more desirable, especially for the 18- to 34-year-old demographic, which he said is “the lifeblood of our economy.”

 Part of the Blueprint plan would be to create 65,000 new jobs by 2030 and grow the population of Nebraska by a similar amount. Smith said the plan would take how Nebraskans are now spending more on services rather than goods into consideration for how it taxes them.

The Blueprint plan would consolidate the income tax to two brackets: 0% for people making $50,000 or less and 4.99% for people making above that. For corporate income rates, it would be 4% for businesses making $100,000 or less and 4.99% for those making more.

“As taxes go up, people do not want to be a part of the state ... and they are harmed by those tax policies,” Smith said.

The plan would also eliminate the inheritance tax.

Erdman’s plan is called the EPIC Consumption Tax, with EPIC standing for “Eliminate Property, Income and Corporates taxes.” The plan would do just that, along with getting rid of sales and inheritance taxes. It would replace all of these taxes with a single consumption task of 8.97%.

“Taking away all those other taxes, we’ll have an opportunity for the state to grow and its revenue to grow,” Erdman said.

Erdman included various scenarios within his presentation as to how, he said, the EPIC plan would lead to Nebraskans paying less in taxes overall, including on both new and used products. He said the plan would prevent “border bleed” by making it cheaper to purchase things in Nebraska than in neighboring states.

The tax plan would be passed by a 2022 ballot measure, if the plan raises enough signatures for it to appear there. Erdman said the exact wording would read, “No tax other than retail consumption tax and excise tax shall be imposed on the people of Nebraska.” If the measure were to pass, it would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

After they were finished presenting their plans, Smith and Erdman took a few questions from the audience. These included queries on how the plans would affect families, and how fiscal spending would impact the tax plans. Smith said there would be additional forums on other topics which will be hosted by the Platte Institute, in Scottsbluff and elsewhere, sometime in the future. Both presenters expressed how it was important for taxpayers to learn more about the plans so they can have a better understanding of how the Nebraskan political system works.

“I think it’s time for the voters to get involved and make the decision that’s right for them,” Erdman said.

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