Federal officials say the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been paying state sales taxes for years on construction projects in Nebraska, even though the agency should be exempt.
Sen. Ben Nelson told the Legislature's Revenue Committee Tuesday that the problem surfaced during construction of the new U.S. Strategic Command headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base. He says the project has been delayed as a result.
Nebraska law exempts the federal government from paying sales taxes on construction materials. To qualify, federal agencies must complete a state form designating their contractors as a purchasing agent.
Nelson says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has hesitated to fill out the form because it would turn private contractors into federal purchasing agents – which could expose the federal government to lawsuits.
Nebraska State Senator Heath Mello says he is attempting to come up with a remedy. He says the concern is that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be held liable for the actions of private contractors.
Mello has introduced an amendment (AM 2629) to a pending bill (LV 727) which would specifically make materials used in the construction of the new Stratcom Headquarters would not be subject to the Nebraska state sales tax.