LINCOLN, NE – Today, Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm called on the Mayor’s office to take a more active role in protecting residents and visitors from being overtaxed and businesses from being caught unaware when City taxes are scheduled to be reduced.
In 2015, the voters of Lincoln approved a three-year, quarter-cent increase in sales taxes to pay for new 911 equipment and Fire Stations. The City Council voted on February 13, 2018 to end the tax beginning October 1, 2018. It was brought to the attention to Lamm on Wednesday that many businesses were not aware of the tax reduction.
The Mayor’s office issued a press release prior to the February 13 vote, stating it anticipated the Council would end the tax beginning October 1, 2018, but did not issue any further communication on the subject until October 3, 2018 after the tax ended.
“Our local businesses should not have to scroll a Twitter feed or pick up a newspaper to know when they might need to adjust their tax collections downward. It’s not right to suggest business owners to set their watches in February for something that may happen in October,” said Lamm.
Businesses are required to report taxes collected and submit all tax receipts to the State. Businesses that have been unaware of the tax reduction and who have been collecting the quarter-cent after October 1 are faced with additional accounting to make sure they make appropriate submissions to the State.
“It is clear that this administration does not have an appropriate protocol or process for notifying local businesses or for protecting our residents and visitors when a city-imposed tax expires,” Lamm said. “Compare that to the aggressive campaign of notices and reminders businesses report receiving prior to the tax increase in 2015.”
When Lamm requested information from the city Communications Director, she was told the only notification from the city were the press releases distributed on February 5 and October 3, 2018, pointing to the State as the entity responsible for notifying businesses.
“I do not think that the city adequately protects Lincoln businesses, residents, or visitors by placing the responsibility elsewhere,” stated Lamm. “I call on the administration to put practices in place that recognize our obligation to protect our city from this type of situation.”