Ricketts: Too Many Property Owners Aren’t Claiming Income Tax Credit

      Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has held many news conferences during his 8 years in office to tout the property tax relief programs he’s begun or expanded, but he held one Thursday to complain that too many people aren’t claiming their refunds.

      The Legislature launched 2 new property tax reimbursement programs in recent years.

The Real Property Tax Credit shows up automatically on property tax statements as an automatic reduction, but the Property Tax Incentive Program is an income tax credit on property taxes for schools that isn’t automatic and must be claimed.

      Ricketts said yesterday that about 40% of all Nebraskans this year failed to claim it, leaving about $200 million unclaimed. He pointed out that the owner of a $250,000 home in Lincoln could have claimed $1,137 in refunds – enough for a house payment. 

   The Property Tax Incentive program was a 6% refund on 2020 taxes, its first year, but will be 30% next year when it applies to community college property taxes as well as K-12 schools. 

     Supporters of the bill creating the program intentionally didn’t make claiming the refunds automatic because they wanted to make sure landowners filing income tax forms realized it was a tax break – feeling the automatic Real Property Tax Credit program was taken for granted.

       The Incentive program is much larger. The older program next tax year will bring a $213 reduction on the property tax bill for a $200,000 home and $256 for $200,000 of ag land. The Incentive program will top $1,500. 

       Taxpayers who’ve missed out on any either or both of the first 2 years can still claim it either by filing an amended income tax return or by claiming past refunds on next year’s form since refunds can be sought going back three years.

      The Nebraska Dept of Revenue website offers  “Nebraska Property Tax Lookup Tool” to help calculate the proper income tax credit. The website is also where taxpayers can find the necessary forms to request the credit.