NC Budget and Tax Center

3 things we learned from the Elon poll about the income tax amendment

At this stage in the election cycle and in a state where so many changes to the state Constitution are being proposed at once, it’s not surprising that voters don’t have all the information they need to make an informed decision on ballot measures.

That may be the headline of news coverage of the recent Elon poll, but here are three key findings on the income tax rate cap amendment that should be capturing more attention.

  1. Voters don’t support this amendment when they hear the official explanation of what it is. The opposition to the change in the proposed income tax rate moves from 15 percent to 27 percent after hearing the details of what the amendment will do.   Support falls below the majority needed to change the state constitution.
  2. Voters aren’t going to the polls because the income tax cap rate cap is on the ballot. One of the theories discussed during the legislative process was that legislative leaders felt that this measure needed to be on there to turn out voters.  Fifty-seven percent of those polled said this proposed change doesn’t motivate them to go to the polls.
  3. Voters understand that it won’t affect their tax rate. The language of the amendment was changed in the last days of the legislature to include in the ballot question language that the amendment “reduces taxes,” even though the effect of the proposal would only be to cap the maximum allowable rate in the state constitution ABOVE where it currently is.

The takeaway from the Elon poll should certainly be that more education and information is needed to ensure voters can make an informed choice at the ballot.

It should also be clear that North Carolina voters aren’t fooled by tricks from legislative leaders.  They won’t be tricked into going to the polls. They won’t be tricked by language that obscures the benefits to the wealthy and the harm to their communities. They won’t be tricked into thinking that they will benefit.

As we detail in our recent analysis of the proposal to cap the income tax rate at a lower maximum rate, this is a costly measure for North Carolina taxpayers and communities.

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