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NC Budget and Tax Center

The second Quarterly General Fund Revenue Report from the Fiscal Research Division of the NC General Assembly reveals some underlying and troubling trends in the economy. It also foreshadows some of the particular challenges of the new tax plan—namely the tax rate reductions for profitable corporations.

On net, the General Fund was $83.5 million above the $10.02 billion revenue target for the first-half of the current fiscal year that ends in June. Revenue collections were ahead of target largely due to a “stronger-than-expected” performance by the corporate income tax. As the economy has slowly improved, corporate profits have been on an upward trend. Collections from the corporate income tax were ahead of target by nearly $90 million.

The new tax plan, however, diminishes the ability of corporate income tax collections to contribute to public investments and support revenue recovery after a downturn in the future. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Businesses in North Carolina have been instructed by the state Department of Revenue to have their employees complete a new NC-4 tax form and workers and employers may be unclear as to why this is required. The simple answer is that the tax plan signed into law by Gov. McCrory means taxpayers will be paying more or less in NC personal income taxes starting next year.

Employers in the state are required by law to withhold a portion of their employees’ wages, typically each pay period, for NC personal income taxes and the NC-4 form helps employers estimate the amount of taxes to withhold. The new NC-4 form attempts to ensure that no employee is stuck at the end of the year owing a lot in NC personal income taxes or is owed a large refund by the state as a result of employers continuing to withhold NC personal income taxes based on 2013 tax laws. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

The hope-filled message behind the American Dream is becoming a nightmare for many families in North Carolina. Due to the widespread income inequality in the state, economic mobility (the ability of people to improve their economic standing) is becoming more difficult for North Carolinians. This translates as well to intergenerational economic mobility, or the ability of children to achieve higher economic status than their parents. While factors such as education attainment, geography and socioeconomic status impact the ability of individuals to get ahead, a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that more progressive tax expenditures are positively correlated with higher intergenerational mobility.

Specifically the progressivity of mortgage interest deductions and Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) each have positive correlations with the ability of children to be more successful than their parents. In addition, the progressivity of state income taxes is also found to be significantly related to higher intergenerational mobility, thus paving the way to true achievement of the American Dream. Read More

Falling Behind in NC, NC Budget and Tax Center

It is true that the final budget reinvests in some programs and services to achieve an overall slight increase in General Fund appropriations. This reinvestment was made possible by using unspent dollars from last year’s budget, budget gimmicks, the reliance on tuition increases and fees, as well as reductions in other areas of the budget. However, state investments in most areas of the budget—including education—are failing to keep up after years of budget cuts.

There are two primary vantage points for analyzing the final budget and making comparisons over time.  One method is to measure the final budget against the actual dollars that were appropriated last year in the 2013 budget.  The other method measures the final budget against the continuation—or base—budget, which reflects the dollars needed in the next year to maintain current service levels.  The Governor’s Office of State Budget and Management, which is headed by Art Pope, collaborates with the various departments and agencies to determine the continuation requirements.

So, which vantage point makes for the best comparison? Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Legislators penned a state budget that puts North Carolina on a path to mediocrity. It finances tax cuts for millionaires and corporations with deep service cuts to programs that North Carolinians need and value. As such, this budget fails to catch up—let alone keep up—with the needs of children, working families, and communities.

Building a strong economy means building a workforce that is ready to tackle 21st Century challenges and able to meet the needs of competitive businesses—which requires adequate investments in education. Yet, the two-year budget falls short by nearly a half a billion dollars over what’s needed to meet the needs of a growing student population. This gap will result in fewer teachers and assistants in more crowded classrooms, stagnate wages for low-paid teachers, and ever-increasing tuition rates for students and their families.

Failing to adequately invest in the engines of a strong and enduring economy will cause long term pain in our state.

Alexandra Sirota is the Director of the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center