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Columbus News

Posted on: January 25, 2024

What the EPIC Consumption Tax Act could mean for Columbus


Columbus residents and all Nebraskans will likely be asked in the November 2024 general election to vote for or against a proposal that aims to radically change the Nebraska tax system.

It might be enticing on the surface, but voting for it could have serious negative ramifications on your quality of life in Columbus.

The Nebraska EPIC Option Consumption Tax Act (EPIC Act) stands for “Eliminate all Property, Income and Corporate taxes” (as well as inheritance taxes) and replace them with what’s being called a “consumption tax.”

What’s a “consumption tax?” Think of it as a tax on the purchase of a good or service. Some entities are estimating the rate of the EPIC consumption tax would need to be more than 22% rather than the current sales tax rate of 7.5% to raise the necessary funds.

That’s because if passed, the state would be prohibited from imposing any tax except for a state-administered sales tax or “consumption tax.” State and local governments would no longer tax corporate or personal income, inheritances, or property. Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen has said publicly he’s not supportive of EPIC.

So, what would passing EPIC mean for you, your family and your community?

- Columbus residents would lose the ability to vote to spend local funds for local projects like building a new swimming pool. Recent voter-approved projects like the Columbus Community Building, as well as the recent police and fire stations, wouldn’t have been possible.

- The City of Columbus would have no control over revenues or budgeting, as that would be decided by a new regional group with the state Legislature and the governor.

- Revenue collection would be handled by the outside regional group and the Legislature, taking away assurance of having revenue collected that meets the needs of Columbus. Funds would be centralized and redistributed by the Legislature.

- Health care costs and your medications would be taxed.

-  The City of Columbus would no longer have local taxes such as sales tax for projects and economic development residents have come to expect and desire. That means improvements to local parks, downtown and Memorial Stadium, trails, all projects tied to discretionary spending, would be eliminated because they have no funding source.

- Every municipality, including the City of Columbus, would lose access to Highway Allocation Funds to maintain streets and roads throughout town.

-  It would eliminate Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a state-authorized incentive cities can use to help pay for infrastructure in blighted and substandard areas.

-  Nonprofits would lose their tax-exempt status.

-   Your take-home pay would be lowered because an employer would pay EPIC consumption tax on benefits and wages.

-  Lower- and middle-income families would pay consumption tax on all their non-grocery services.

-  Utilities cost to operate would be increased, therefore, increasing costs to individuals and families.

-  Without financial support from local sources of revenue, local economic development programs wouldn’t be able to function.

-   Visitors would be discouraged from visiting and purchasing items in Columbus and other Nebraska communities due to the high consumption tax rate.

There is more. Review the accompanying graphics from the Nebraska City/County Management Association to learn more about how passing the EPIC Option in November 2024 could impact local economic development, your family, and eliminate local control.

Copyright © 2024 City of ColumbusEducating on Epic - Overall Concerns_Page_1

Educating on Epic - Overall Concerns_Page_2

Educating on Epic - Economic Development

Educating on Epic - Loss of Local Control

Educating on Epic - Impact on families

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