Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska Host Gubernatorial Candidate Forum & Consumption Tax Panel at Annual Meeting

Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska Host Gubernatorial Candidate Forum & Consumption Tax Panel at Annual Meeting
(L-R) Senator Brett Lindstrom, Breland Ridenour, Senator Carol Blood, Michael Connely speak during the gubernatorial candidate forum at the Independent Cattleman of Nebraska annual meeting held Oct. 29 in Broken Bow.

BROKEN BOW—The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) hosted its 15th annual meeting and convention on Friday, October 29 in Broken Bow, Neb. The convention included the business meeting and legislative updates, gubernatorial candidate forum, tax relief panel, beef supper, live auction, and entertainment.

The Nebraska gubernatorial election is scheduled for November 8, 2022 and candidates are making the rounds throughout the state. Senator Brett Lindstrom, Breland Ridenour, Senator Carol Blood, and Michael Connely attended last week’s forum in Broken Bow giving introductions and then taking questions from the audience. Charles Herbster and Jim Pillen were unable to attend citing prior commitments.

One of the main topics addressed by the candidates was property tax relief.

“If we just sit and have one proposal and say this is the end all be all, it’s not going to bring us to the table to negotiate on the bigger picture and the bigger plan,” Senator Brett Lindstrom said. “With the income tax, property tax, sales tax, if we’re going to do this we’re going to have to do it all at the same time because there isn’t a level of trust,” he continued.

ICON’s mission is to represent independent cattle producers. Those in attendance heard from the candidates and heard a tax relief presentation regarding the EPIC Consumption tax proposal.

A former farmer from Sidney and now Omaha resident Mark Boniewicz said the EPIC would eliminate five current Nebraska taxes: property tax, individual income tax, corporate income tax, state sales tax, and state inheritance tax. These would be replaced with a consumption tax paid by consumers when purchasing retail products and services.

“EPIC stands for Eliminate Property taxes, personal income tax, corporate income tax, Nebraska state sales tax, and inheritance tax. It’s going to be five taxes. We’ll replace them with a consumption tax on retail products and services. For the farm and ranch community it’s going to be a huge boost because they are under terrible burden with these property taxes right now,” Mark Bonkiewicz said.

The ICON meeting pamphlet went on to say that there would be no consumption tax on business to business transactions and a monthly prebate will be received by Nebraskans at the beginning of each month to pay for the consumption tax on necessities up to the threshold of the federal poverty level.

The EPIC consumption tax will be reintroduced before the legislature in January. This past May, 23 out of 49 senators voted for it do come out of committee. Thirty-three votes are needed to be placed on the 2022 ballot.

Bonkiewicz said his heart goes out to those in agriculture who are being burdened by taxes in a state that claims to be the “the good life.”

“We have a huge problem in the state of Nebraska. Our system is broke when you look at where we rank in all of those five taxes we’re going to eliminate they all total up that we’re the 48th worst state to live in for taxes,” Bonkiewicz said.

Bonkiewicz told KCNI/KBBN the EPIC Consumption tax would eliminate tax exemptions and broaden the transactions upon which sales tax is levied.

He believes this will motivate businesses to reinvest in Nebraska and bring families back to the state who have moved away, creating an economic boost. He said the bill will allow people the chance to determine when they want to pay their taxes: when they want to buy retail products or services. As for property, he said people will for the first times in their life own their property.

“The current tax system is set up to really benefit the people who collect the taxes and spend the tax money. It’s not set up for the benefit of those of us who are paying the taxes. So EPIC is going to be a brand new paradigm: It’s going to change the emphasis on we who are paying it, we want the government to be treated the same way we are,” Bonkiewicz said.

As for the candidate forum, Bonkiewicz says, “I firmly believe that whoever is governor when this passes will have a legacy that will last for generations, unbelievable. It’s just going to take somebody with the political will and courage to say ‘this has got so many potential solutions’ and we have some details we still have to work out. It’s not all worked out yet, we fully admit that. But the principle is 100% sound because we’re getting rid of the government’s ability to inflict taxes at their will against the will of the people,” he told KCNI/KBBN.

(L-R) Senator Brett Lindstrom, Breland Ridenour, Senator Carol Blood, Michael Connely
EPIC Consumption Tax representative Mark Bonkiewicz speaks to KCNI/KBBN during the ICON meeting Oct. 29.