Nebraska Tax Two Step is the name i give to the way the Real Estate Tax System is explained, when being explained by people who are collecting and/or spending the tax dollars. In Nebraska the Real Property is divided into three main categories; residential, commercial and agricultural. Today we are discussing only agricultural, but the Nebraska Tax Two Step applies to each category.
To understand Real Estate Taxes in Nebraska, you need to understand two words. The first being Valuation and the second being Levy. All Real Property is given a value. This is done by the County Assessor; with the help of the legislature (the are the ones who change the rules on a regular basis). The value is to be as close to actual value as can be determined. The Valuations are set during the first part of the year and “Notices of Valuation” are sent to each land owner for each piece of property in the country on the first day of June each year. Later in the year each property owner receives a Tax Statement for each piece of property. The taxes paid by the property owner, are based on the levy (mill levy) this is a number that the taxing entity says they need to be taken times the value to generate the revenue they say they are going to need to run their operation. The taxing entities are listed on the tax statement.
Now for the Nebraska Tax Two Step, anytime you dare to try to talk to your elected officials concerning Real Estate Taxes, you get the Nebraska Tax Two Step. Some years the values go up and some years the values go down, some years the levy goes up and some years the levy goes down. On years the valuations go up, the official spending your tax dollars will tell you how good of a job they are doing because they may have lowered the levy. On years that the levies go up, they tell you what a great job they are doing because the valuations may have gone down. For the last few years there is a new version of the two step. Anytime you inquire about Ag land taxes you will hear about the increase in the value of Ag property and how it is not the fault of the taxing entity that people are willing to pay higher prices for Ag land. As with previous versions of the two step, this version has no validity. As you look at the examples on the “Tax Lives Matter” page, you will see the increase in actual money collected by each taxing entity over this 10 year period. The bottom line is the taxes paid keep going up. The actual amount of dollars sent in each year on each piece of property is higher than the year before. So, in the future when talking to the tax spenders, don’t let them give you the Nebraska Tax Two Step. Tell them you only want to talk to them in the terms of actual dollars sent in.
If you would like to see the Nebraska Tax Two Step in action, ask your County Commissioner, a local School Board Member or administer and/or one of your local NRD board members (on the Taxing Members page) about your taxes, you will not only be utterly amazed and completely confused by the fancy footwork, you will go feeling extremely happy that they even allow you to pay your taxes. The good ole “Nebraska Tax Two Step”, it “used to” work every time.