Nebraska Property Assessment FAQs
This guidance document is advisory in nature but is binding on the Nebraska Department of Revenue (DOR) until amended. A guidance document does not include internal procedural documents that only affect the internal operations of DOR and does not impose additional requirements or penalties on regulated parties or include confidential information or rules and regulations made in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act. If you believe that this guidance document imposes additional requirements or penalties on regulated parties, you may request a review of the document.
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What property is taxable in Nebraska?
All property in the State of Nebraska is subject to property tax unless an exemption is mandated by the Nebraska Constitution, Article VIII, or is permitted by the Constitution and enabling legislation is adopted by the Legislature. Federal law may supersede the Nebraska Constitution with regard to taxation of property owned by the federal government or its agencies or instrumentalities.
Who is responsible for valuation or assessment of property?
The county assessor is responsible for valuing all real and personal property with the exception of railroads, public service entities, and specific personal property of air carrier and rail car line companies, which are assessed by the Property Tax Administrator.
What is real property?
Real property includes: all lots and land; buildings, improvements, and fixtures (except trade fixtures); and mobile homes that are used for residential, office, commercial, or agricultural purposes. See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-103.
What is taxable personal property?
All depreciable tangible personal property which has a Nebraska net book value greater than zero is taxable, except licensed motor vehicles, livestock, and certain rental equipment. Depreciable tangible personal property is personal property used in a trade or business for the production of income, and which has a determinable life of longer than one year.
The following persons must file a Nebraska Personal Property Return with the county assessor on or before May 1:
- Anyone who owns or holds any taxable, tangible personal property on January 1, 12:01 a.m. of each year;
- Anyone who leases personal property to another person;
- Anyone who leases personal property from another person; or
- Anyone who brings personal property into the county between January 1 and July 1, must list the property for assessment before July 31, unless it can be shown that the personal property was purchased after January 1 or that it was listed for assessment in another jurisdiction.
When are properties valued?
All property in the State of Nebraska subject to taxation must be valued as of January 1, 12:01 a.m. each year.
How are properties valued?
The valuation of real property is determined according to professionally accepted mass appraisal techniques, including but not limited to the following: (1) comparing sales of properties with known or recognized values, taking into account location, zoning, and current functional use (also known as the sales comparison approach); (2) the income approach; and (3) the cost approach.
The valuation of personal property is determined using a statutory method of depreciated values similar to the federal Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System and 150% declining balance depreciation schedules.
All real property is assessed at or near 100% of actual value, except agricultural and horticultural land which is assessed at or near 75% of actual value. Agricultural and horticultural land receiving special valuation pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-1344 is assessed at 75% of its special value which is the uninfluenced value of the land for agricultural and horticultural purposes.
Personal property is assessed at 100% of the net book taxable value as determined by the statutory method.
What is the assessment process?
Between January 1 and March 19 of each year, the county assessor updates and revises the real property assessment roll. In counties with a population of at least 150,000, the county assessor must provide preliminary valuation change notices by January 15, conduct informal meetings with property owners, and complete the assessment roll by March 25.
Each year between early April and May 15, the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (Commission) has the authority to adjust the valuation of classes or subclasses of real property in any county in order to achieve equalization of property values. Decisions of the Commission may be appealed to the Nebraska Court of Appeals.
The county assessor revises the real property assessment rolls for any orders issued by the Commission and notifies property owners of value increases or decreases by June 1. Individual protests of real property valuations may be made to the county board of equalization. The county board of equalization may adjust the protested value of individual properties. Decisions of the county board of equalization may be appealed to the Commission.
Personal property is self-reported by the taxpayer on or before May 1. If the county assessor makes changes to the reported valuation, a notice must be sent to the taxpayer. The action may be appealed to the county board of equalization.
On or before August 10, the Commission must equalize the real property of centrally assessed railroad and public service companies with the statewide level of assessment. The Property Tax Administrator certifies centrally assessed values to the counties.
On or before August 20, the county assessor compiles and certifies the total taxable value (real, personal, and centrally assessed) to each local government taxing subdivision for rate setting purposes.
Why do real property valuations change?
Property values can change for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
- Fluctuations in current market trends and conditions;
- Addition of new improvements;
- Remodel or rehabilitation of existing improvements;
- Destruction or removal of improvements;
- Positive or adverse outside influences upon the property; or
- An order for value increases mandated by the Tax Equalization and Review Commission.
How is agricultural or horticultural land valued?
The valuation for agricultural or horticultural land is valued according to market or actual value, no different than any other real property. However, Nebraska law allows for agricultural and horticultural land to be assessed at a rate lower than 100% of market value. State statute currently mandates agricultural or horticultural land to be assessed at 75% of its fair market value.
What is agricultural or horticultural special valuation (also known as "greenbelt")?
Special valuation was enacted because urban development and other non-agricultural development can have an economic impact on agricultural or horticultural land values. Only agricultural land and horticultural land may qualify for special valuation.
Special valuation allows the taxable value for property tax purposes to be based solely on the actual value of land primarily used for agricultural or horticultural purposes. Special valuation allows persons to continue to engage in agriculture or horticulture as a livelihood without being forced to discontinue their agricultural or horticultural endeavors as a result of excessive valuations caused by non-agricultural influences.
When are real property valuation change notices sent, and where do I protest my real property value?
On or before June 1 of each year, the county assessor will send notification to the owner of record, as of May 20, of every real property parcel that has been assessed at a different value than the previous year.
Property owners who do not agree with the county assessor’s opinion of actual value may file a protest with the county board of equalization between June 1 and June 30 of each year. Protests must be in writing, signed, and filed with the county clerk on or before June 30. Each protest must contain a written statement of why the requested change in assessment should be made and also a description of the real property. Protest forms are available at the county clerk’s office, or see Property Valuation Protest, Form 422.
What is a homestead exemption?
For certain individuals, the homestead exemption program provides relief from property taxes by exempting all or a portion of the valuation of a home from taxation, with the state reimbursing the counties and other local government subdivisions for the taxes lost due to homestead exemptions.
Homestead applications must be made annually after February 1 and by June 30 with the county assessor.
Who can file for a homestead exemption?
- Persons over age 65;
- Veterans totally disabled by a nonservice-connected accident or illness;
- Qualified disabled individuals;
- Qualified totally disabled veterans and their widow(er)s;
- Veterans whose home was substantially contributed to by the Department of Veterans Affairs; widowers of these veterans;
- Unremarried widow(er)s of a servicemember who died on active duty; or
- Individuals who have a developmental disability.
If the owner of a homestead who has been displaced from his or her homestead due to a natural disaster applies for a homestead exemption, the owner of the homestead may still be considered to be “actually occupying” the homestead and qualify for a homestead exemption even though he or she is not physically living in the homestead. The county assessor will determine if the homestead was uninhabitable due to a disaster at any point between January 1 and August 15 of the year of application and whether the applicant intends to rebuild or repair the homestead.
What other types of exemptions are available?
An organization that owns real or tangible personal property, or licensed motor vehicles, and is seeking a property tax exemption may file for an exemption if:
- The property is owned by and used exclusively for agricultural or horticultural societies; or
- The property is:
Owned by educational, religious, charitable or cemetery organizations or any organization for the exclusive benefit of any educational, religious, charitable, or cemetery organization;
Used exclusively for educational, religious, charitable or cemetery purposes;
Not owned or used for financial gain or profit to either the owner or user;
Not used for the sale of alcoholic beverages for more than 20 hours per week; and
Not owned or used by an organization which discriminates in membership or employment based on race, color or national origin.
Important: When an organization acquires or converts property to exempt use after January 1 but on or before July 1 of that year, the organization must file an Exemption Application with the county assessor, on or before July 1.
For real or depreciable tangible personal property see Exemption Application, Form 451.
For motor vehicles the application must be filed with the county treasurer, see Exemption Application Motor Vehicle, Form 457.
Personal Property Tax Relief Act (Act). Beginning in 2016, the Act provides for an exemption of the first $10,000 of tangible personal property value for each tax district in which a personal property return is filed by a taxpayer. Failure to report tangible personal property on the personal property return will result in a forfeiture of the exemption for any personal property not timely reported for that year. The Act provides an exemption factor for centrally assessed taxpayers. It also provides a reimbursement mechanism for any taxes lost by the county and political subdivisions as a result of the exemption. See Directive 15-5.
There is an exemption for either a mobile home or motor vehicle of any veteran of the United States Armed Forces who was honorably discharged and has a service-connected disability. See Exemption Application, Form 453.
A beginning farmer or beginning livestock producer, who has been certified by the Beginning Farmer Board, may receive an exemption of up to $100,000 of taxable agricultural machinery and equipment value. An Exemption Application, Form 1027, must be filed with the county assessor on or before December 31 of the year preceding the year for which the exemption begins.
There is an exemption for certain business personal property belonging to qualifying companies under Nebraska’s tax incentive programs - the Employment and Investment Growth Act, Form 775P, and the Nebraska Advantage Act, Form 312P.
The tangible personal property used directly in the generation of electricity using wind as the fuel source is exempt from property tax and subject to the nameplate capacity tax. The tangible personal property used directly in the generation of electricity using solar, biomass, or landfill gas is exempt from property tax if the depreciable tangible personal property was installed on or after January 1, 2016, and has a nameplate capacity of 100 kilowatts or more. See Property Assessment Directive 16-1.
Any tangible personal property purchased by a person operating a data center located in Nebraska, which is then incorporated into other tangible personal property for subsequent use outside the state by the same person operating a data center in this state, is exempt from the personal property tax.
Is a residence acquired or held by the Department of Veterans Affairs exempt from property taxes?
No. Federal agencies are typically exempt from property tax unless otherwise specified under federal law. In this case, federal law explicitly allows for State or political subdivisions to tax property that is acquired or held by the Department of Veterans Affairs. See 38 U.S. Code § 3720.
How are property tax rates and taxes calculated?
Each year, on or before October 15, the county board of equalization levies the necessary taxes, within the limits of the law, for operation of all functions of county government, school districts, cities, community colleges, natural resource districts, and other local authorities. The tax rates for these various local government taxing subdivisions are determined by dividing the subdivision's annual budget tax request by the current total taxable value within their boundaries. The tax rates are expressed as a percent of $100 dollars of taxable value.
Property taxes are determined by multiplying the property’s taxable value by the total consolidated tax rate for the tax district in which the property is located. The tax district is comprised of various governing bodies empowered to levy property taxes for services, such as county government, school district, city, etc. The county assessor is not responsible for establishing tax rates or collection of taxes.
When are property taxes due, and where do I pay them?
On or before November 22, the county assessor transcribes the real property tax list and delivers it to the county treasurer for collection of property taxes.
All real and personal property taxes, including taxes of centrally assessed railroad and public service companies, are due on December 31. Property taxes are paid to the county treasurer.
The first half of the tax becomes delinquent on the following May 1, and the second half becomes delinquent on September 1; except in Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy counties, where the first half is delinquent on April 1, and second half becomes delinquent on August 1.
How are motor vehicles taxed?
In Nebraska, motor vehicle tax is no longer a property tax according to value.
In 1997, legislation changed the method of taxation of motor vehicles to a uniform statewide tax and fee system. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the oversight state agency, not DOR.
The motor vehicle tax is determined from a table that begins with the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and declines each year thereafter, using a table found in state law.
See Motor Vehicle Tax, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 60-3,187
The fee is a nominal amount, generally between $5 and $30, and the proceeds are distributed to cities and counties based on the Highway Trust Fund dollars.
See Motor Vehicle Fee, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 60-3,190
The sales and use tax imposed on motor vehicles are paid at the time of registration of the motor vehicle for operation on the highways of the State of Nebraska.
See Nebraska Sales and Use Tax Rates.
Responsibility for motor vehicle license, registration, titles, and taxation lies with the county treasurer. See DMV County Contact Information. For more information contact DMV or the county treasurer.