Natural resource districts would have refund authority

Owners of non-irrigated land would have a mechanism to obtain a refund of occupation taxes under a bill discussed in a Natural Resources Committee hearing Feb. 15.

LB1125, introduced by Imperial Sen. Mark Christensen, would establish a procedure for landowners to receive a refund of incorrectly levied taxes.

Currently, natural resource districts with integrated management plans can levy occupation taxes on irrigated lands. Owners of non-irrigated land can have their land certified as non-irrigated by March 1 each year to receive an exemption from the tax.

Christensen cited an example of a natural resource district that implemented an occupation tax in September. He said owners of non-irrigated lands were charged the tax because the March 1 deadline had passed and they were not given significant notice regarding the certification process.

“Farmers need significant notice to certify their land,” Christensen said. “This will give farmers the right to present evidence to a natural resource board to rectify the situation.”

Mike Clements, Lower Republican Natural Resource District manager, testified in support of the bill, saying that he would like to refund landowners’ money but currently does not have the authority to do so.

No one testified in opposition to the bill and the committee took no immediate action.

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