Showing posts with label Inheritance Tax. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Inheritance Tax. Show all posts

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Taxing the Dead

Last week we received this from our friends at the Platte Institute.  We were actually disappointed they didn't take an even stronger position on totally eliminating Nebraska's inheritance tax.   

Of course we understand that as soon as the subject is brought up that all of the state's 49 state senators start getting calls from their local county board members who obviously benefit from the tax.   Forget the constituents, their heirs and the dead who paid taxes on all of this once already.....

With that said, here is what the Platte Institute had to say:

Stop the Inheritance Tax

Benjamin Franklin famously said "In this world nothing can said to be certain, except death and taxes." Unfortunately for Nebraskans, the Cornhusker State's inheritance tax ensures that not even death alleviates the certainty of taxes.
 
Nebraska was recently listed as one of the "Die Harder States" by the Wall Street Journal, and one of the states deemed by the Family Business Coalition as "Where Not to Die."[1] Nineteen states and the District of Columbia still levy either an estate or inheritance tax. Specifically, five states-including Nebraska-levy an inheritance tax while twelve levy an estate tax; New Jersey and Maryland have both.[2] Indiana, Ohio, and North Carolina all ended their death taxes this year, and Tennessee will end their inheritance tax on January 1, 2016.[3]
 
The difference between estate and inheritance taxes is fairly straightforward; estate taxes are based on the net value of the entire property owned by the deceased at the time of death while inheritance taxes are based on the beneficiaries. For estate taxes the entire property is taxed while under an inheritance tax each bequest is taxed an amount dependent upon the familial relationship of the beneficiary with the deceased.[4]
 
Nebraska's inheritance tax is slightly different from the others in that the rates and policy are set by the state, but the collection is administered at the county level. While spouses are exempt, other decedents of the deceased are subject to three rates based upon their familial relationship with the deceased. Immediate relatives such as children, parents, and siblings, receive a $40,000 exemption with a one percent tax rate on the clear market value of all property over that exemption. Non-direct relations, such as aunts, uncles, and cousins receive a $15,000 exemption and must pay a 13 percent tax. Finally, non-relations receive a $10,000 exemption and must pay an 18 percent tax.[5] The 18 percent rate is the second highest in the country, with only Washington's 19 percent estate tax rate being higher.[6] These taxes are in addition to a federal estate tax of 40 percent-up from 35 percent in 2012. The federal estate tax no longer allows deductions for state death taxes so some beneficiaries may be hit with the full brunt of both the federal and state taxes, which for unlucky Nebraskans could be as high as 58 percent.[7]
 
Those most impacted by the inheritance tax are farmers, ranchers, and family businesses, as the inheritance tax makes it nearly impossible to pass property from one generation to the next. Many Nebraska farms and ranches are family-owned-and 98 percent are family-owned nationally[8]-and the negative effects of the inheritance tax on agriculture cannot be ignored. In Nebraska agriculture is key to the economy, contributing 27 percent of the gross state product, 41 percent of total sales volume, 24 percent of jobs, and 25 percent of total wages and income in 2010.[9]
 
While the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the net income of agricultural households as higher than the average American household, much of that wealth is in farm or ranch-related assets, making many agricultural households "land rich, but cash poor."[10] This means that on paper, agricultural household income is high, making them very susceptible to inheritance tax liability, but the only way to pay for that tax is to sell equipment, land, or even the entire farm or ranch. Small businesses are often in the same situation, with wealth tied up in business-related assets that would have to be liquefied in order to pay the tax. In both situations, if the business, farm, or ranch survives the tax, the loss of certain components undoubtedly makes it less productive, and leaves it with fewer resources with which to expand the business or hire new employees, perhaps even leading to bankruptcy down the road.[11]
 
These taxes are also an example of double taxation, as the families and businesses affected have paid years and even decades' worth of property taxes on these farms, ranches, and businesses that they intend to pass to the next generation, and the beneficiaries will likely continue paying taxes on that property for years to come. Similarly, all the income gained from these properties is subject to income taxes; and any sales the family would have to do to pay the inheritance tax bill would likely be subject to sales taxes.  Clearly, the government is getting plenty of revenue from these families and businesses in other ways. It is double taxation to add the inheritance tax on top of what should be a simple ownership transfer to the next generation.
 
Besides family farms, ranches, and business, the inheritance tax also has a general detrimental effect on the economy. Death taxes discourage savings and investments by sending the signal that it would be better to consume wealth today rather than passing it on to future generations. A lack of investment and saving would have a multiplier effect of reducing job creation, and by extension, reducing wages and overall economic productivity.[12] A Congressional study by the Joint Economic Committee estimated that the federal estate tax had reduced the amount of capital in the country by $847 billion between 1946 and 2006. This loss of capital is undoubtedly worse in states with their own death taxes on top of the federal estate tax.[13]
 
These death taxes are also an example of double taxation, as the families and businesses affected have paid years and even decades worth of property taxes on these farms, ranches, and businesses that they intend to
The inheritance tax should be repealed as soon as possible so families that own farms, ranches, and businesses will not have to worry if they may pass their family business to the next generation. One stated goal of the Tax Commission is "tax equity,"[14] with that goal in mind the commission could work to lower the rates for distant and non-relatives to the same one percent level paid by immediate relatives, making the inheritance tax equal for all beneficiaries and not discriminatory based upon blood relations. Of course, the greatest equity would be no inheritance tax at all."


[1] Wall Street Journal, "The Die Harder States," August 20, 2013. Accessed August 26, 2013, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323639704579013040148683248.html.
[2] Forbes, "The States With State Death Taxes For 2013 [Updated]," July 30, 2013. Accessed August 26, 2013, http://www.forbes.com/special-report/2013/the-states-with-state-death-taxes-for-2013.html.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Julie Garber, "What's the Difference Between an Estate Tax and an Inheritance Tax?" Accessed August 26, 2013, http://wills.about.com/od/stateestatetaxes/qt/estatetaxvinheritancetax.htm.
[5] Mary Rudolph, "Nebraska Inheritance Tax," NOLO. Accessed August 26, 2013, http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/nebraska-inheritance-tax.html; Julie Garber, "Understanding Nebraska Inheritance Taxes," April 27, 2009. Accessed August 26, 2013, http://wills.about.com/b/2009/04/27/understanding-nebraska-inheritance-taxes.htm.
[6] Wall Street Journal, "The Die Harder States," August 20, 2013. Accessed August 26, 2013, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323639704579013040148683248.html.
[7] Wall Street Journal, "The Die Harder States," August 20, 2013. Accessed August 26, 2013, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323639704579013040148683248.html; Sandra Block, "Beware States With Their Own Estate Taxes," Kiplinger, May 2013. Accessed August 27, 2013, http://www.kiplinger.com/article/taxes/T055-C000-S002-beware-states-with-their-own-estate-taxes.html.
[8] Beef Today, "NCBA Calls for Congress to Act on Death Tax," October 14, 2010. Accessed August 26, 2013, http://www.agfirstcouncil.com/assets/Estate%20Taxes/NCBA%20Calls%20for%20Congress%20to%20Act%20on%20Death%20Tax.pdf.
[9] Dan Moser, "Report: Nebraska ag production complex is key to economy," IANR News. Accessed August 26, 2013, http://newsroom.unl.edu/announce/todayatunl/1437/8116.
[10] United States Department of Agriculture, "Farm Household Income," Economic Research Service, February 11, 2013. Accessed August 26, 2013, http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-economy/farm-household-well-being/farm-household-income.aspx; J.D. Alexander, "Farmers and ranchers asset rich, cash poor," Southeast Farm Press, February 15, 2012. Accessed August 26, 2013, http://southeastfarmpress.com/management/farmers-and-ranchers-asset-rich-cash-poor.
[11] Platte Institute for Economic Research, "LB970 Tax Relief Package," March 2012. Accessed August 26, 2013, http://www.platteinstitute.org/docLib/20120312_LB970_Tax_Relief_Package.pdf.
[12] Curtis S. Dubay, "The Economic Case Against the Death Tax," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder #2440 on Taxes, July 20, 2010. Accessed August 27, 2013, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/07/the-economic-case-against-the-death-tax.
[13] Jon Kyl, "Kill the ‘death tax,'" USA Today, June 5, 2006. Accessed August 27, 2013, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/2006-06-05-estate-tax-oppose_x.htm.
[14] Paul Hammel and Martha Stoddard, "Study panel focuses on Nebraska tax ‘equity,' not just cuts," Omaha World Herald, August 8, 2013. Accessed August 26, 2013, http://www.omaha.com/article/20130808/NEWS/130809096.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Don't Die In Nebraska

We thought we'd share with you this article from the Wall Street Journal.  You may recall that there was an effort by Governor Heineman to eliminate the 'death tax' in Nebraska but since the counties receive those funds they objected.   Most county boards quickly started calling their state senator(s) to suggest that both the their county and their re-election might be endangered by eliminating the tax.  

In looking at the chart provided by the Journal, it appears that anyone with liquid assets would be wise to flee the state before his/her demise.

The Die Harder States

Minnesota has increased the incentive to move to Florida.

"Washington finally declared a truce on the death tax this year, with estates now taxed at 40% with an exemption of $5 million. President Obama insisted on preserving this tax to spread the wealth, though it raises less than 2% of federal revenue and discourages lifetime savings, as even a 1981 study by Mr. Obama's former chief economist Larry Summers showed.

Now the death-tax debate has shifted to state capitals, with mixed results depending on which party runs the state. Prior to 2001, states could impose an estate tax of up to 16% with no extra burden on their residents because a federal tax credit offset state estate taxes. That policy has ended and now state death levies are paid out of the assets of the deceased.

Four states—Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee—have reacted wisely by eliminating or phasing out their estate taxes. This leaves 18 states plus the District of Columbia that still impose a gift or estate levy. (See the nearby list.) Most of them still apply a 16% rate—as if federal rules haven't changed. 
 
The grand prize for self-abuse goes to Minnesota, which this year enacted a new 10% gift tax with a $1 million exemption. A gift tax is a levy on money given away while still alive. This tax is in addition to Minnesota's 16% estate tax. The new law is all the more punitive because it applies the 16% estate tax (6% on top of the earlier 10% gift tax) to any gift within three years of death.
 
This is essentially a clawback tax, or more taxation without respiration. Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, who signed the law, is the heir to a department store fortune and knows a lot about inheriting wealth but not much about creating it.

Studies by Mr. Summers and many others conclude that successful people who have built up wealth continue to invest in the enterprise and save money in their later years in order to leave a legacy to their heirs. This accounts for the trillions of dollars of wealth passed from one generation to the next. The higher the tax rate the more this incentive for wealth creation is reduced. The combined federal and state death tax rate now approaches 50% in many states (after accounting for deductions). This explains why estate tax planning and avoidance is a booming industry.

State death taxes are especially futile because residents subject to the tax can avoid it by fleeing before they die. No less an ardent liberal than the late Senator Howard Metzenbaum moved to Florida from Ohio to avoid estate taxes after he retired from politics. A successful New York business owner with, say, $50 million of lifetime savings can move his family and company to Florida, Georgia, Texas or 29 other states and cut his death-tax liability by up to $8 million.

Thousands of Minnesota snow birds move to Florida during the winter months already, and so the new tax adds an extra financial incentive not to return. The Center for the American Experiment, a Minnesota research group, found that $3 billion of income has been lost to the state since 1995 after Minnesotans relocated to Florida and Arizona. 
 
The think tank's conclusion should be required reading for policy makers in every state still imposing a death tax: "If enough people move away and stop paying Minnesota taxes, then Minnesota will experience a net revenue loss due to the estate and gift tax." This will mean that people making less than $1 million a year will be left paying the tab. So much for spreading the wealth."

A version of this article appeared August 20, 2013, on page A14 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Die Harder States.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

First Campaign Announcement for 2014

Yes, it's only election day 2013 and we already have our first candidate announcement for next year's local election.    At yesterday's Omaha Republican Luncheon County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson not only spoke but announced that she was running for re-election next year.

While Borgeson didn't raise any reportable funds last year, she did finish 2012 with $21,740 in the bank which isn't a bad start for getting ready for next year.

In her speech to the group Borgeson was well prepared with a slide program and a knowledgeable presentation.   Borgeson seems to be looking out for Douglas County taxpayers and an election claim that she is working to keep property taxes low.   However, she is doing so by opining that the legislature's passage of an expanded Medicaid bill would save Douglas County taxpayers $4 million.   Of course that doesn't take into consideration what Governor Heineman has suggested would be an onerous burden for 'state' taxpayers.    Also, Borgeson seemed opposed to the elimination of the county death, oops, inheritance tax which she said would add somewhere between $9 and $12 million to property taxes in Douglas County.   Again, Borgeson looks to the maintenance of her budget and not raising taxes rather than what would seem to be the sentiment of many conservatives.    Of course, she didn't suggest spending cuts would resolve these issues although she did indicate that the county's current budget forecast for 2014 shows a six million dollar shortfall which she seemed to believe could be handled by cutting budgets.

We appreciated Borgeson's knowledgeable presentation and her zeal not to raise taxes on county taxpayers.   However, a more conservative view on expanded Medicaid and eliminating the inheritance tax might endear her to more conservatives especially with a significant commitment to dealing with those issues by cutting spending.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff: Nebraska Congressman and Senators Should Say 'No' to Obama

Well, it appears to us that Republicans, led by John Boehner are about to fall over the 'political cliff' and sell their souls to Barack Obama in order to prevent themselves from being blamed for sending the nation over the fiscal cliff.   Frankly, we'd prefer the ride over the latter and any Republicans, particularly any Nebraska Republicans who vote to this may be committing political suicide--and more particularly 2nd Congressional District Congressman Lee Terry.    If Terry votes for anything similar to what is being discussed one can only guess at the inter-party opposition he will face in 2014 from the conservative side of his party.

The president's latest 'offer' supposedly includes a plan to:
  • Raise taxes by $1.3 trillion
  • Cut spending by $930 billion
  • Lift the debt limit for two years
  • Extension of unemployment benefits
  • Infrastructure spending stimulus
  • Raise the rates on capital gains and dividends from 15% to 20%
  • Raise estate taxes to pre-2009 levels-a 45 percent top rate, with a $3.5 million exemption per person
  • Includes savings from ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and last year’s debt limit deal which Obama offer says reduces the deficit by $4 trillion over ten years.
  • No Medicare eligibility age changes or entitlement program savings
  • Patch the Alternative Minimum Tax
  • Avoid an increase in the physician payment rate under Medicare (how long will that last before congress changes it?)
  • Doesn't include any payroll tax extension which you can bet the Dems will find some way to pass.‬‬‬
‪Boehner’s office  said the proposal was “a step in the right direction”, but we don't think it is anymore than another hood-winking of Republicans and the American public.

Any Nebraska Republican running for re-election in 2014 would be better justified in voting no and allowing the country to go over the fiscal cliff rather than accepting a deal that will jeopardize the future of our country, not to mention their own political future.‬‬

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Time to Tell the University of Nebraska to Stick It


We are beginning to wonder who is running state and local government. Is it the governor, the legislature, local county board members or city council members??? No, more and more it seems it’s the administration of the University of Nebraska and the timid ‘always say yes’ members of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.

We in the Omaha area have just been put in a place where we are paying triple taxation to finance the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s $400 some million cancer center. After making promises to the governor and legislature that it would not seek other government funding, the administration broke its promise and went to Douglas County and the City of Omaha with their hands out for more. The liberals on both the county board and the city council willingly came up with another $45 million from county and city coffers, local taxpayers, to go to the university’s aide.

The contribution from the county board will no doubt help the governor’s renewed attempt next year to finally end the county inheritance tax. So by donating your tax dollars the Douglas County Board will probably have rung the death knell for that tax.

But none the less, Omahans are now paying state taxes to finance the project, county taxes to finance the project and city taxes to finance the project.

So after sticking it to the taxpayers of Omaha, what next? Oh, a new arena for the University of Nebraska at Omaha, one to play hockey and basketball in. And of course, the ‘administration’, which apparently hadn't shared any details of the plan with University of Nebraska Board of Regents in advanced, just last week revealed its plan which will take further advantage of the largess of Omaha taxpayers while frankly screwing them.

The administration wants Omaha taxpayers to finance the infrastructure work through a ruse to take advantage of TIF, tax increment financing. The administration would create a semi-private entity to qualify for the infrastructure improvements but in the end would get the entire facility and improvements returned to its ownership.

But it’s only $10 million or so, right? So it’s not much and why make a big deal out of it? No, once again the university is going to screw Omaha tax payers. First by getting $10 million in financing through a ruse. Then by moving twenty events a year out of the taxpayer financed Century Link Center on which Omahans still owe more than $200 million. So the movement of Maverick Hockey, the primary money earner for UNO’s sports programs, will cost the taxpayers of Omaha by taking income away from the Century Link while once again feathering the pockets of the university. What a deal!

We think it’s time to just say no to the university and its administration and, yes, the board of regents if they go along with this. The taxpayers of Omaha have given enough. They’ve anteed up more than their fair share to the medical center and other projects across the state. Now they are expected to jeopardize their $300 million investment in the Century Link in order to once again ‘help’ the university build a project that will take even more out of their pockets.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Omaha Gets it Right on Med Center Occupation Tax -- Well Sort of

We seldom agree with the Omaha World-Herald but its editorial page pretty much got it right in its opinion on the University of Nebraska Medical center request for an occupation tax from Omaha and $5 million from Douglas County.

Frankly, they should have just said "NO" but then they probably didn't want to offend the 'powers that be' like Mike Yanney who are trying to thrust this down the throat of our city council and county board members.

The local daily rightfully notes that it was only months ago that the county board members across the state were saying they couldn't exist without the inheritance tax.   In their words, threats, if the inheritance tax went away, they'd have to raise taxes on the poor citizens.   Now, Douglas County may just decide to commit that $5 million from the inheritance tax!   If they do, we hope Governor Heineman and the legislature show Douglas County and all counties next year that they can live without it

And, as the local daily once again notes, why raise taxes to finance this university expenditure when the city has half-a-billion some dollars short in funding its city pension plans.   It has streets and lots of other obligations to take care of

Yes, the local daily got it right-sort of   It should have just said, "NO"!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pass LB 970

Governor Heineman's tax proposal, LB 970, should be passed.   Despite the 'woe is me's' coming from county officials across the state, it's time to eliminate the inheritance tax assessed by those counties.    There is no need to tax the dead or their heirs on assets on which taxes have already been paid.   The tax, along with other onerous taxes on social security and retirement, drives well-heeled Nebraskans to move to other states that don't impose these archaic and uncompetitive taxes.   The tax and Nebraska's high personal and business income taxes (which would be reduced by LB 970) discourage businesses and high earners from coming to Nebraska.

Governor Heineman and the legislature have done a good job bringing Nebraska from a non-competitive tax environment six years ago to one that is beginning to approach fair and competitive.  It's now ranked 29th.    That's not good enough.   LB 970 will make Nebraska a friendlier place for newcomers and its current citizens.

Here is what our friends at the Platte Institute had to say in their recent 'Platte Chat":

Counties Need to Tighten Their Belts
Recently, officials of Douglas County have made a wide range of assertions in response to LB970, Governor Heineman's tax relief package which would lower both individual and corporate income tax rates as well as repeal the state inheritance tax, which is collected on the county level. The provision to repeal the inheritance tax has led many of these officials to assert that repealing the tax would result in increased property taxes or cuts to essential services.[1] We contend that counties should make every effort to tighten their own budget belts before cutting services or raising taxes.

Over the past three years, Douglas County's budget has grown by about 3 percent a year, more than twice as fast as the rate of inflation, which has averaged out to be 1.43 percent between 2008 and 2011.[2] During this same time, Douglas County has steadily received less revenue from inheritance and property tax receipts. Property taxes have remained relatively stable over the past three years with mill levies of the various cities of Douglas County averaging to about 2.22 percent; yet inheritance taxes have been an unstable source of revenue for the county, and have decreased in absolute monetary terms by nearly $2 million since 2008.[3]

Nebraska families and small businesses have tightened their belts while the salaries of government officials have risen 15.6 percent between 2006 and 2010, from $83 million to $98 million.[4] Data compiled by the Omaha World Herald, estimated that Douglas County employees who stayed in the same positions had seen their salaries increase by as much as 19 percent.[5]

This could lead citizens to question the claims being made by Douglas County officials. The inheritance tax has only resulted in slightly over $8 million the past two years at the same time that salaries and spending have continued to increase at higher and higher rates while Americans in the private sector have struggled. In a raise that took effect this month the salaries of 40 county officials who already made over $100,000 a year increased and another measure retroactively gave raises to detention center employees for work done in 2010, 2011, and 2012, combining for an 8 percent raise over those three years.[6] Reports indicate that few of these raises were tied to job performance.[7]
The inheritance tax is not a make or break part of the Douglas County budget. The loss of the inheritance tax could be absorbed by restricting government spending. If Douglas County froze spending at FY2009 levels, then they would not even need the revenue from the inheritance tax. Such a feat is possible, cutting spending does not have to mean raising taxes or cutting services. Freezing the amount paid to county employees at 2008 levels would save over $6.5 million.

Of course, Douglas County is not alone in opposing the tax reductions proposed by Governor Heineman. As the Governor recently pointed out, Sarpy County has given out raises to leading county officials, including a 8.1 percent salary increase for County Administrator Mark Wayne and a 7.2 percent increase for Fiscal Administrator Brian Hanson. This is after their salaries-and those of other Sarpy County employees-increased over the past three years and are scheduled to continually increase for the next three years.[8] Sarpy County officials also receive free health insurance.[9] While the Sarpy County Board did vote to delay raising pay on Tuesday, there is more that could be done to save money to absorb any costs that would come from repealing the inheritance tax.[10]

Taxpayers and business owners have had to tighten their belts to weather the recession. LB970 would ensure family farms, ranches, and businesses stay solvent for the next generation, providing income and jobs. Instead of threatening to raise taxes and cut services, the elected officials of Douglas and Sarpy Counties should look at how they can make government leaner and more efficient, and they could start by examining their own paychecks.


[1] John Ferak, "Plan to get rid of inheritance tax decried," Omaha World Herald, January 25, 2012. Accessed January 25, 2012: http://www.omaha.com/article/20120125/NEWS01/701259872/1007.
[2] US Inflation Calculator, "Current Inflation Rates: 2001-2012," accessed January 25, 2012: http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/current-inflation-rates/. Average rate based upon author's calculations.
[3] Douglas County Mill Levies by subdivision and city, 2011-2012. NP Dodge Title Services, January 26, 2011. Accessed February 2, 2012: http://www.lotsomaha.com/pdf/2011douglas.pdf
[4] Douglas County Salaries, Omaha World Herald. Accessed January 25, 2012: http://dataomaha.com/douglas_county_salaries/. Percentages calculated by author.
[5] Douglas County Salaries, Omaha World Herald. Accessed January 25, 2012: http://dataomaha.com/douglas_county_salaries/; John Ferak and Matt Wynn, "In Douglas County, longevity pays," Omaha World Herald, August 22, 2010. Accessed January 25, 2012: http://omaha.com/article/20100822/NEWS01/708229919.
[6] John Ferak, "Plan to get rid of inheritance tax decried," Omaha World Herald, January 25, 2012. Accessed January 25, 2012: http://www.omaha.com/article/20120125/NEWS01/701259872/1007.
[7] http://dataomaha.com/douglas_county_salaries/; John Ferak and Matt Wynn, "In Douglas County, longevity pays," Omaha World Herald, August 22, 2010. Accessed January 25, 2012: http://omaha.com/article/20100822/NEWS01/708229919.
[8] John Ferak, "Double-digit raises up for a vote," Omaha World Herald, January 30, 2012. Accessed January 31, 2012: http://www.omaha.com/article/20120130/NEWS01/701309890/-1#double-digit-raises-up-for-a-vote; John Ferak, "Heineman rips Sarpy raise plan," Omaha World Herald, January 31, 2012. Accessed January 31, 2012: http://www.omaha.com/article/20120131/NEWS01/701319901#heineman-rips-sarpy-raise-plan.
[9] Ibid.
[10] John Ferak, "Sarpy delays managers' raise vote, asks for more data," Omaha World Herald, February 1, 2012. Accessed February 2, 2012: http://omaha.com/article/20120201/NEWS01/702019899/-1.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reflections on Current Issues

There is just so much out there to comment on that our unpaid staff just can't deal with everything in detail.   So here is our brief consensus on some of those issues:
  • Our applause goes to Mike Groene of North Platte for the effort he and others have started to roll back the numbers of signatures required on statewide petitions.  Requiring 115,000 signatures to put a issue before the voters is unrealistic.   It used to be 49,000 signatures until the Nebraska Supreme Court looked at the unintended consequences of legislation at that time that prompted the change.   In a single house state, the voice of the people should be heard without overcoming onerous hurdles.

  • Despite the opposition by most of Nebraska's county boards, it's time to eliminate the inheritance tax.   Nebraska is one of the few states in the country that still punish the dead and their families who've already paid taxes on assets.  Governor Heineman is right to want to end this.   A phase in over five years could end this archaic tax and give counties time to adjust.

  • Good riddance to the failure of Lake Lautenbaugh (formerly Lake Daub) to advance.   Yes, it would have been nice to have our own Lake of the Ozarks near Omaha, but the money to study it would have been wasted because there is no way it could have overcome the environmental and financing challenges it would have faced.   This might have been a good idea in 1958.   It might have been doable in 1935.   It isn't today.

  • Warren Buffett should quit whining about the 'undue' publicity his secretary is getting.   HE IS THE CAUSE OF THAT.   He has made her the poster girl for his guilt-driven need to pay more taxes.   Maybe if 47 million Americans who pay no taxes and in many cases get someone else's money back (Unearned Income Tax Credit) paid a little and had some ownership in their government his secretary's taxes could be reduced along with everyone else's.

  • We've opined on it before, but it's time for Senator Fischer's LB 745 bill on occupation taxes to be passed.   The egregious misuse of such needs to be stopped--Can you say Jim Suttle's 2.5% restaurant sales, oops, occupation tax?  It's time to let citizen vote on new occupation taxes. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Senator Brasch Follow-up

In fairness to Senator Brasch and our readers after reviewing our notes from her Monday night appearance before the Washington County Republican Party Central Committee, there are some things pro and con that we left out.

First we failed to mention her introduction of LB 775 at the request of State Auditor Mike Foley.   That bill would eliminate unnecessary paperwork requiring him to go to three different state entities before getting permission to go to a law enforcement agency when he finds potential criminal issues.   This effort makes good sense.

Brasch also seemed supportive of  Governor Heineman's effort to cut state tax rates and the inheritance tax.   On that note, however, it appeared that Brasch was being heavily lobbied by county board members to not vote for elimination of the inheritance tax.   The inheritance tax is an anachronism and should be eliminated and we hope Brasch will not be deterred by folks like her mentor Bill Avery from voting its elimination.  It's time to quit taxing the dead....

When asked about voter i.d. laws and Senator Janssen's bill which was recently withdraw (temporarily we understand) she seemed a little ambiguous.   Yes, as she noted in small counties and cities most who show up at the polling place are known by the workers there.   She needs to recognize that such is not the case in big cities.  Those present made it clear to her that virtually all of them support voter i.d. legislation.   We again hope she listens to her constituents and some of her fellow conservative lawmaker colleagues rather than Bill Avery. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Random Thoughts

It's such a topic rich environment for cynical conservatives that we just can't keep up so rather than our extensive bloviations we thought we'd just deal with a number of topics with unusual brevity.   After all, tomorrow is a national holiday celebrating Martin Luther King and we have lots of events to attend so we need our rest today--it is Sunday after all....

1.  When Governor/Ambassador Huntsman officially suspends his race for the G.O.P. presidential nomination tomorrow morning we wonder whom he will throw is 400 or 500 votes to???   If he were smart, he'd endorse Romney and maybe ultimately get appointed Ambassador to China....

2.  For those who read the local daily on Friday they were tantalized by the potential of an independent candidate in Nebraska's U.S. Senate race,  Jim Jenkins.   Of course had the writer of that news bit had any intellectual curiosity perhaps she would have questioned whether Jenkins was qualified to run as an independent--which he wasn't, thus necessitating an article on Saturday noting that because he had re-registered in 2012 rather than 2011 he wasn't eligible to run as an independent.   Keep up the good work Robynn....

3.  Apparently one of the 'unintended consequences' of Jane Fonda Fleming Kleeb's pipeline success (rerouting or perhaps no routing at all) is that poor beetle that Jon Bruning talked about having to be put in buckets  containing carrion.  Yes, that poor endangered species was going to benefit from some $4.5 in a trust fund from the folks who wanted to build the pipeline through the far eastern edge of the sandhills.    Now the beetle will be dependent on the meager $25,000 a year that Nebraska receives from your federal government and YOUR TAXES to keep it from becoming extinct.....

4. It's nice that our legislature will now have one day a week when it opens it session with the Pledge of Allegiance.   We think it should open every day with he pledge and a prayer.  In fact, we hope Senator Fulton follows through with his plan to introduce legislation requiring all Nebraska public schools to begin each day with the pledge--he should include the legislature.

5.  We've been wondering about all those 'green jobs' and new jobs our incompetent Mayor Suttle has created.   One firm took its jobs from North Omaha and added about 100 more in Red Oak, Iowa.   Now, Omaha Casting is moving it's jobs to Wahoo.  Good work, mayor.   Oh, by the way, Jim, nice job of getting that North Omaha crime situation under control.   We're sure you're getting lots of help from Councilman Gray...

6.  Seems American petroleum companies will pay the the U.S. Government some $6.8 million in penalties because of their failure to mix a particular biofuel into gasoline last year.   The only problem is that the particular biofuel wasn't available.   Now, who do you suppose ultimately pays those fines?   The oil companies? No, you do every time you put gas in your car.    Elementary economics, corporations don't pay taxes, they just pass them on to you in everything you buy from plus of course the costs associated with paying them.

7.  We think Governor Heineman's idea to eliminate the inheritance tax is a great idea, but you can bet all 93 counties will be using your tax dollars to lobby against it and threatening to raise your property taxes.   But then why shouldn't Nebraska be one of only eight states that still have this confiscatory tax?   If we wait long enough maybe we will be the only one, just like we are the only one with a Unicameral....