Give all taxpayers a break -- even if they're Ted Turner
It's easy to let personalities get in the way of sound policy -- such as the way former Sen. Ernie Chambers became the target that made term limits a reality in our state.
Now, Ted Turner is in danger of taking over that role in another issue.
Omaha lawmaker Sen. Tom White contends that Ted Turner has received too much money from the current property tax credit program.
The program, which spreads $115 million in tax credits to all owners of real property -- residential, commercial and agricultural alike, sends money to counties to pay for local property tax relief.
The program provides about $86 in property tax relief per $100,000 of valuation. In the case of Turner, who owns approximately 425,000 acres in Nebraska, that has amounted to nearly $150,000 in property tax relief over the past two years.
White proposes that the tax-break package be aimed only at homeowners, in the form of a homestead exemption, exempting $13,000 in assessed value of everyone's home from property taxes.
The proposed law would lower the tax bill of every homeowner, whatever the value of the home, by the same amount, $275.
With the current program, the owner of a $150,000 house, for example, receives a tax break of about $129.
It should be noted that White is from eastern Nebraska, where the two most populous counties, Douglas and Lancaster, received the largest slices of the $115 million set aside for property tax relief.
Outstate lawmakers argue that 22 percent of the statewide property tax base is farmland, valued at approximately $113.5 billion.
We agree with Sen. Tom Hansen of North Platte, who notes that ag land pays for a lot of schools, and said "you just can't pick out one group of Nebraskans that gets it."
Meaningful tax breaks go to those who pay taxes.