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Grand Island Chamber Raises Red Flag on Effort to Impose New Consumption Tax on Nebraskans

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — The Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce is raising concerns regarding a plan to impose a statewide consumption tax on services and new goods purchased in the Cornhusker State.

The so-called EPIC Option Consumption Tax plan would end Nebraska’s property, income, and corporate taxes, only to replace them with a new consumption sales and excise tax. The rate of the EPIC tax would likely be at least 15% to 20% — and perhaps higher — according to a Feb. 23 briefing by the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

EPIC supporters are working to place the issue on the November 2024 ballot. They have until July to collect signatures from 10% of registered voters.
No other state has ever implemented such a tax system. If approved by voters, the EPIC plan would make Nebraska’s cities, counties, school districts, and other local governments fully reliant on the 49 state lawmakers in Lincoln for local funding needs.

Experts say the EPIC tax’s exorbitant rate would punish young families and workers, as well as retirees on fixed incomes — while harming key sectors like retail, home and building construction, auto dealers, and many professional services. Nebraska businesses would struggle to compete with businesses in neighboring states.

Jamie Karl, the Grand Island Chamber’s new president, said: “Nebraska’s tax burden is undoubtedly too high. But the EPIC plan abandons common sense by mandating an unproven tax scheme that threatens the drivers of our economy. It is an unwise approach, especially considering Nebraska’s 2023 tax reforms will go into full effect in just three more years.

Let’s not ruin the Good Life by subjecting Nebraska to this dangerous experiment.” Cindy Johnson, outgoing president of the Grand Island Chamber, said: “Our chamber has longstanding policy in support of tax reform and relief, but EPIC is a wild card that would end local control. Grand Island, Hall County, our public schools, and other local governing bodies would be at the mercy of the Legislature to fund law enforcement, emergency services, education, housing, roads and infrastructure, and more. This is a troubling plan.”

The Grand Island Chamber board will review the EPIC proposal at its March meeting.