Decoupling is seen as a key negotiating chip in discussions under way about a “grand compromise” this legislative session to permit passage of a property tax relief/school aid reform bill — highly sought by farmers and ranchers — as well as a new state business incentive program — the top priority of the State Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.
Supporters of decoupling, which included the Nebraska State Education Association and the American Association of Retired Persons, said that Nebraska’s tax priorities should be decided here, not in Washington, D.C., which has already sent about $8 billion in COVID-19 aid to Nebraska and its businesses.
“This allows Nebraska to take control of their own tax base,” said Adam Thimmesch, a law professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who studies state tax law.
Thimmesch said the CARES Act tax breaks benefit mainly high-income individuals, and would probably not be the economic recovery plan that Nebraska lawmakers would adopt.
Decoupling, however, was opposed Monday by every major business group in the state, including the groups that represent the state’s banking, accounting, auto dealers and small business industries. They argued that the CARES Act tax cuts were aimed at the businesses that have struggled most in recent years, and are at the highest risk of closing unless they get an infusion of cash via the tax breaks.