Nebraska State Constitution Article VIII-4

Article VIII-4


Legislature has no power to remit taxes; exception; cancellation of taxes on land acquired by the state.

Except as to tax and assessment charges against real property remaining delinquent and unpaid for a period of fifteen years or longer, the Legislature shall have no power to release or discharge any county, city, township, town, or district whatever, or the inhabitants thereof, or any corporation, or the property therein, from their or its proportionate share of taxes to be levied for state purposes, or due any municipal corporation, nor shall commutation for such taxes be authorized in any form whatever; Provided, that the Legislature may provide by law for the payment or cancellation of taxes or assessments against real estate remaining unpaid against real estate owned or acquired by the state or its governmental subdivisions.


  • Neb. Const. art. IX, sec. 4 (1875);
  • Transferred by Constitutional Convention, 1919-1920, art. VIII, sec. 4;
  • Amended 1958, Laws 1957, c. 214, sec. 1, p. 750;
  • Amended 1966, Laws 1965, c. 299, sec. 1, p. 845.


1. Release or commutation

2. Redemption

3. Miscellaneous

1. Release or commutation

The prohibition against commutation of taxes set forth in the Constitution of Nebraska does not apply to an excise tax. Banks v. Heineman, 286 Neb. 390, 837 N.W.2d 70 (2013).

Because the levy authorized under section 77-3442(2)(b) benefits all taxpayers in a learning community, which is the relevant taxing district, section 77-3442(2)(b) does not violate the constitutional prohibition under this provision against a commutation of taxes. Sarpy Cty. Farm Bureau v. Learning Community, 283 Neb. 212, 808 N.W.2d 598 (2012).

Because the levy authorized under section 79-1073 benefits all taxpayers in a learning community, which is the relevant taxing district, section 79-1073 does not violate the constitutional prohibition under this provision against a commutation of taxes. Sarpy Cty. Farm Bureau v. Learning Community, 283 Neb. 212, 808 N.W.2d 598 (2012).

The Class VI school system tax levy set forth in section 79-1078 (formerly section 79-438.13) does not result in the commutation of taxes and therefore does not violate this provision. Swanson v. State, 249 Neb. 466, 544 N.W.2d 333 (1996).

Although the Legislature is prohibited from changing the methods of payment of any tax once levied, a tax enacted and put into effect prior to the tax levy dates does not violate the constitutional proscription against commutation of a tax. Jaksha v. State, 241 Neb. 106, 486 N.W.2d 858 (1992).

Legislature does not have the power to release or discharge a tax. State ex rel. Meyer v. Story, 173 Neb. 741, 114 N.W.2d 769 (1962).

Prohibition against release of taxes had no application to receipt by county officers of money under court decree. State ex rel. Heintze v. County of Adams, 162 Neb. 127, 75 N.W.2d 539 (1956).

Blanket Mill Tax Levy Act operated to release and discharge taxes, and was unconstitutional. Peterson v. Hancock, 155 Neb. 801, 54 N.W.2d 85 (1952).

Where school district acquired title to land after tax became lien, lien could not be discharged without violating this section. Madison County v. School Dist. No. 2 of Madison County, 148 Neb. 218, 27 N.W.2d 172 (1947).

Intangible property of foreign corporation could not be released from taxation by Legislature. International Harvester Co. v. County of Douglas, 146 Neb. 555, 20 N.W.2d 620 (1945).

Sale of land to satisfy a tax sale certificate thereon is an extinguishment of the lien for taxes, becomes merged in the title, and does not constitute a release or commutation of taxes. Lincoln County v. Shuman, 138 Neb. 84, 292 N.W. 30 (1940).

Statutory provision that holder of certificate of tax sale in scavenger suit may surrender it to the county treasurer with request for its cancellation and such cancellation shall have effect of redemption from tax sale, is not a provision for the release or commutation of taxes within the constitutional prohibition. Marker v. Scotts Bluff County, 137 Neb. 360, 289 N.W. 534 (1939).

Interest, penalties and costs imposed for nonpayment of taxes are no part of the tax and may be remitted by the Legislature. Tukey v. Douglas County, 133 Neb. 732, 277 N.W. 57 (1938).

Sheriff, making a sale under a distress warrant to collect unpaid personal taxes, is justified in refusing a bid so inadequate as to amount to commutation of taxes. Krug v. Hopkins, 132 Neb. 768, 273 N.W. 221 (1937).

Statute providing that, under certain conditions, delinquent real estate taxes may be paid in ten equal annual installments contravenes constitutional provision prohibiting commutation of taxes in any form whatever. Steinacher v. Swanson, 131 Neb. 439, 268 N.W. 317 (1936).

Free high school instruction act does not violate this section. Wilkinson v. Lord, 85 Neb. 136, 122 N.W. 699 (1909); High School Dist. No. 137, Havelock v. Lancaster County, 60 Neb. 147, 82 N.W. 380 (1900).

Section does not apply to special assessment for local improvement. City may release same by compromise. Farnham v. City of Lincoln, 75 Neb. 502, 106 N.W. 666 (1906).

No tax can be released by purchase of the land at eminent domain proceedings. State v. Missouri Pac. Ry. Co., 75 Neb. 4, 105 N.W. 983 (1905).

"Release" is extinguishment of debt. Sale of land for less than amount due is release within meaning of Constitution. Woodrough v. Douglas County, 71 Neb. 354, 98 N.W. 1092 (1904).

Statute attempting to exempt insurance companies from taxation is void. State ex rel. Cornell v. Poynter, 59 Neb. 417, 81 N.W. 431 (1899).

Taxes are perpetual lien on real estate and Legislature has no power to release any of same. County of Lancaster v. Trimble, 33 Neb. 121, 49 N.W. 938 (1891); Wood v. Helmer, 10 Neb. 65, 4 N.W. 968 (1880).

2. Redemption

Redemption from tax lien foreclosure cannot be made by paying amount of the bid, but only by paying full amount of taxes due with interest. City of Plattsmouth v. Hazzard, 132 Neb. 284, 271 N.W. 801 (1937).

Redemption from tax lien foreclosure by county may be made by owner or person interested only by paying full amount of taxes due with interest, not by paying only the amount bid at the sale. Commercial Savings & Loan Assn. v. Pyramid Realty Co., 121 Neb. 493, 237 N.W. 575 (1931).

On redemption owner must pay full amount of tax due. City of Beatrice v. Wright, 72 Neb. 689, 101 N.W. 1039 (1904).

3. Miscellaneous

A request for refund of invalid tax or one paid as a result of clerical error must be by a written claim upon which the county board acts quasi-judicially, and upon request for declaratory relief on ground resolution for refund was invalid, refusal thereof was within discretion of district court where there was no showing such claim had not been filed. Svoboda v. Hahn, 196 Neb. 21, 241 N.W.2d 499 (1976).

The partial exemption from taxation of classes of property specified in section 77-202.25, is not unreasonable, objectionable as discriminatory, or violative hereof. Stahmer v. State, 192 Neb. 63, 218 N.W.2d 893 (1974).

While a penalty is not a part of the tax, it does have some of the attributes of the tax at least with respect to its distribution. Misle v. Miller, 176 Neb. 113, 125 N.W.2d 512 (1963).

Housing authority created by statute for slum clearance is a governmental subdivision and, as such, is exempt from taxation. Lennox v. Housing Authority of City of Omaha, 137 Neb. 582, 290 N.W. 451 (1940).

The state has an interest in the revenue of a county, and the Legislature may, for the public good, direct its application. City of Fremont v. Dodge County, 130 Neb. 856, 266 N.W. 771 (1936); City of Beatrice v. Gage County, 130 Neb. 850, 266 N.W. 777 (1936).

Lien for personal taxes against assets of an estate has priority over preferred claims in probate of estate. In re Estate of Badberg, 130 Neb. 216, 264 N.W. 467 (1936).

Priority of general taxes over special assessments is recognized by this section. Douglas County v. Shannon, 125 Neb. 783, 252 N.W. 199 (1934).

Banking authorities in control of state bank should pay taxes lawfully levied on bank's intangible property before depositors and creditors. Farmers State Bank of Belden v. Nelson, 116 Neb. 541, 218 N.W. 393 (1928).

Statute authorizing city to levy tax for university campus extension is for corporate purpose, and hence not violative of this section. Sinclair v. City of Lincoln, 101 Neb. 163, 162 N.W. 488 (1917).