At a time when we should be boosting investments to ensure that the Tar Heel state can compete for good-paying jobs in an increasingly knowledge-based economy, our legislative leaders have taken a different path. Our prized public 4-year university system serves as an example.

Since 2008, state funding on a per student basis within the UNC System has been cut by nearly 16 percent when adjusted for inflation. Managing these funding cuts have meant reducing course offerings, which can prolong the time it takes students to graduate; reducing academic- and student-support services; and steady tuition hikes. For the 2014 academic year, the average tuition and fees cost with the university system is around $6,100, up from around $4,400 in 2008 – an increase of nearly 40 percent.

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In case this news hasn’t reached readers, North Carolina residents should expect to begin paying sales taxes on their online purchases through Amazon.com (Amazon), the online retailer, beginning next month. Come February 1st North Carolina will become the 20th state in which Amazon collects a sales tax on online purchases.                

Since Amazon does not have physical, brick-and-mortar stores or operations here in North Carolina, the company is not required by law to collect a sales tax on online sales made to North Carolina residents. North Carolina taxpayers are supposed to voluntarily report their online purchases on their state income taxes and pay a “use tax”, but it appears that few taxpayers do so considering the significant loss of revenue for the state, as well as for cities and counties.

The NC Department of Revenue estimates that the state loses as much as $214 million in online sales taxes each year, according to a news report. Read More

This month, taxpayers receiving their paychecks are seeing changes in their take-home pay.  Some will see more, some less since the tax plan passed last year delivers income tax cuts depending on individual taxpayer circumstances.

The benefits from the new tax law will accrue primarily to the wealthiest taxpayers and profitable corporations. In total, the tax plan passed last year reduces revenue by nearly $525 million over the next two years. The foregone investments for our communities that will result from these tax cuts will impact us all.

Consider what could have been done to improve the classroom experience of our students in K-12 public schools if policymakers hadn’t chosen to cut taxes for the wealthy and profitable corporations. These dollars could have been used to provide a package of investments in public education such as:

  • Keeping 1 in 5 teacher assistant jobs in FY15
  • Doubling current funding for textbooks in FY15 Read More

If you dressed a wolf in sheep’s clothing, would you then believe it was a sheep?

The leadership in the General Assembly and its allies hope you will. Proponents of the state’s new tax law are trying desperately to justify it, most recently by citing pennies in tax cuts for low- and middle-income North Carolina families in 2011, hoping you’ll ignore the harm the recently passed package will cause.

Most of the 2013 tax plan goes into effect this year, and for the vast majority of North Carolinians the picture is bleak.

The Budget and Tax Center’s analysis of the plan shows that when you consider all the tax changes and compare them to previous tax law, on average, people making under $84,000 a year – the bottom 80% of North Carolina taxpayers will see their taxes go up.

In a new analysis, proponents of the plan are touting the 2011 expiration of a temporary sales tax increase as evidence that low- and middle-income earners are better off.  They fail to note that lawmakers allowed a surcharge on high-income earners to expire (a tax cut of around $200 million) in 2011 too.  The expiration of the surcharge will actually generate an even greater tax cut for high-income taxpayers.

There are other key facts that get soft-pedaled in the Locke Foundation’s analysis. Read More

Recent news reports highlight that not all taxpayers will benefit from the tax plan signed into law by Gov. McCrory last year. While disputed, this has been a major talking point for proponents of the tax plan – that all taxpayers will benefit from the income tax rate cuts. The General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division discredited this claim last month, however, noting that the tax plan creates winners and losers and that some taxpayers will pay more in income taxes.

News reports note that proponents are now backing away from this false claim. A fact check by the Associated Press (AP) concludes that while the state’s income tax rate goes down for every taxpayer, this does not mean all taxpayers will actually pay less in overall state taxes. In response to AP’s findings, Gov. McCrory’s office responded that the governor did not say “every” or “all” taxpayer(s) would see more money in their paychecks as a result of the tax plan. State budget director Art Pope points to a temporary one penny sales tax that expired two years ago to downplay the fact that some taxpayers – particularly low-income families with children – will pay more taxes under the tax plan. BTC’s analysis of the tax plan takes into account the expiration of the one penny sales tax as well as the decision by state policymakers to also let the surcharge on high-income taxpayers expire. Implications from the tax plan have been reported in other news outlets as well (see here, here and here). Read More