Farmers, lawmakers talk tax reform in Lincoln

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By Tim McNicholas

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Updated: Fri, 08 Nov 2013 01:17:44 CST

Burdette Piening is a farmer from Lincoln who's had enough of his high property taxes.

On Friday he had a chance to stand face to face with some of the experts and lawmakers influencing tax reform in Nebraska.

He learned a lot, but his thoughts on property tax remain the same.

"Property tax seems to be high for everyone," he said. "And so we need to have a relief of that."

And according to a speaker at Thursday's Ag at the Crossroads Conference, Piening isn't the only one with that opinion.

A UNL Policy Specialist outlined a recent survey of rural Nebraska.

The poll goes around every year, asking citizens for their thoughts on tax reform.

Of course, just about everyone wants lower taxes, but many realize there's more to the picture.

"We also have to recognize that citizens in general are supportive of the level public services we have," UNL Policy Specialist Brad Lubben said.

So the challenge, according to Lubben, is deciding which funds go where.

That's a dilemma that Nebraska farmers are all too familiar with.

The title of Thursday's event was Ag at the Crossroads.

Some of the farmers there felt that was pretty appropriate.

"We're always at a crossroads of something, whether it be water, taxation," Piening said.

And soon the government will be at their own crossroads.

The Tax Modernization Committee has completed their hearings on tax reform...

In January the course of action lawmakers take will be a top priority.

The idea of eliminating property tax altogether has come up repeatedly.

"That's a complex move," Lubben said. "And it's more likely to end up with reform, change, revision, but not wholesale elimination."

As for Piening, he'd like to see a solution in which everyone pays their fair share.