Hall County Voices Firm Opposition Against Elimination of Inheritance Tax

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The Hall County Board of Supervisors took a firm stance against the elimination of the inheritance tax Tuesday.

Governor Dave Heineman has been pushing for the elimination of the tax, which he argues drives away potential residents and businesses. But opponents say the increased property taxes counties would have to levy to make up for that loss of revenue is not an attractive option either.

"The loss of the inheritance tax would have a profound effect on the county. That's what we're using to do the repairs on the courthouse. All of our major building repair stuff comes out of the inheritance tax," said Hall County District 3 Supervisor Stephen Schuppan.

Nebraska is one of seven states that still have an inheritance tax. A recent study by the Open Sky Policy Institute showed many Nebraska counties would face financial hardships if the state eliminates the tax. Hall, Adams, and Buffalo counties are among the 26 counties that the study says are likely to be the hardest hit.

"The elimination of the inheritance tax is going to affect everybody in the county because it's going to make us increase the property tax to make up for the difference. Where the inheritance tax just affects a few people, the elimination of it is going to affect everybody in the county," Schuppan said.

State senator Mike Gloor also spoke at the Board's meeting Tuesday, noting that he does not support the elimination.

"I don't get concerns expressed to me by constituents about the inheritance tax. On the other hand, I always have concerns from constituents about property tax. And as things currently stand, to eliminate the inheritance tax, seems to put counties in the position of having to increase the levy to pay for all those things that our joint constituents seem to need," Gloor said.

Gloor also said that the inheritance tax issue is just the tip of the iceberg and that the state needs to rethink its taxes.

"What we need is a broader policy discussion about the whole tax system, where we get our revenue and how sustainable that is in the long term," said Gloor.

Some legislators have suggested that the state could take over certain services if counties are stripped of the money that currently funds them, but county officials say, some things are just handled better at the local level.