Commentary

The best editorial of the weekend: NC Revenue Department needs to get with the program

In case you missed it, the Winston-Salem Journal had a good editorial over the weekend in it which lauded Gov. Roy Cooper for his generally solid work to advance the cause of sustainable energy, but blasted Cooper’s Revenue Department for doing just the opposite.

After pointing out that Cooper’s recently announced clean energy plan has numerous good aspects, the editorial noted:

For about two decades, North Carolina used tax credits to encourage individuals and businesses to invest in renewable energy partnerships. Investors could get tax credits as high as 35 percent on money they invested in various clean energy projects. The credits had to be taken in five equal installments.

That particular program ended in 2016, but investors who had projects in progress could keep taking the credits until they had used them up. Some people involved in solar projects created partnerships not only with energy companies but also with banks, insurance companies and other institutions that essentially bought the tax credits.

Then last fall, the Revenue Department said it wasn’t going to allow the tax credits in some of those partnership deals that had been used to pay for solar energy projects.

Suddenly, investors who been important in the development of the state’s solar farms stood to lose as much as $500 million….

After noting that Revenue officials are relying on an unnecessarily cramped reading of the law, it closes by calling on Gov. Cooper to get his people in line in support of a vital cause:

But North Carolina’s tax code can differ from the federal one when state laws differ from federal laws. By insisting on this narrow view, the Revenue Department is in effect making policy, a policy that’s not that of the governor and that also seems to go against the intent of the General Assembly and a recent state Supreme Court ruling involving the IRS code.

The Revenue Department is also unfairly changing the rules on investors who acted in good faith, in a move that will make it tough for future clean-energy projects here to find financial backing.

The Revenue Department is a part of Cooper’s administration just as surely as the Department of Environmental Quality is.

Cooper should do what it takes to get the Revenue Department on board with his ambitious clean energy proposals.

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