Mismanaging expectations

by | Apr 16, 2015 | Editor's Blog, Tax Reform | 7 comments

Tax Day has passed and North Carolina Republicans must be relieved. Maybe now everyone will quit complaining about paying more state taxes this year. But maybe not.

The GOP passed their massive tax reform promising that everybody would get a tax break. They based their claim on a reduction of the tiered income tax rate to a flat rate of 5.8%. The big winners, though, were the high earners who saw their rate drop almost 2% for income over $60,000.

The rest of the state didn’t see much change and a whole lot of people thought they paid more. Some did. About 390,000 small business people paid taxes on $50,000 of income that had been exempted since 2011. Seniors, in particular, felt the pain of losing the medical exemption. Other people had less deducted from their pay checks so they either got a smaller refund or had to pay additional money by April 15. Whether those people actually paid more or not, they felt like they got the shaft.

As WRAL’s Laura Leslie pointed out on her Facebook page, taxpayers need to “compare your 2014 W-2 box 16 to 2013, plus your refunds or debts” to determine whether or not you paid more. She did that and found that, in fact, she owed the state $3 each April but in 2014 had $140 less deducted from her pay check, meaning she got a nominal tax break this year.

So Laura saw her paycheck increase about $11 a month or $5.50 every paycheck if she gets paid twice a month. It’s not really enough to notice and certainly not enough to make a difference in her lifestyle.

And that pretty much sums up the GOP tax reform. Some people, the wealthiest among us, got a huge tax cut. Some people, mostly small business owners and seniors, saw their taxes go up substantially. Most people, like Laura, didn’t see a substantial change in the amount they paid.

But a lot thought they did. And, in politics, that’s what matters. The GOP promised, loudly and repeatedly, that they were going to put more money into people’s pockets. They led people to believe that they would see enough change in their tax bills to improve their lives. For the vast majority of North Carolinians, that didn’t happen. 

A lot of voters tolerated the cuts to services and education because they expected to benefit from lower taxes after the Great Recession left their incomes and savings depleted. Instead, they just found out they got nothing. That’s called mismanaging expectations. And next year, if Democrats are worth their salt, Republicans will pay a price for it and Pat McCrory, without the protection of a gerrymandered district, will take the brunt of it.


  1. Donald Stanat

    My wife did the taxes for someone who last year went into a “memory care” facility. Because of medical expenses, this person owed no federal taxes and more than $5000 in NC taxes. We are very much concerned about paying for her care; these state taxes amount to almost a month’s care.

  2. Edward de Bary

    The loss of medical deductions increased my income taxes by better than 35% and I know one person who said their increase was 71%. One legislator said to me, “We had to find the money somewhere.”

  3. Dorothea Gaulden

    Elected For Whom?

    I fully support paying taxes to ensure our country continues to grow strong, to support the less fortunate and to take care of those who bravely protect us. However, I am very saddened by the movement to enrich the wealthy while saddling all others with the tremendous responsibility. This was quite evident when filing our 2014 taxes – our tax bill increased over 400%. Unfortunately our elected officials appear not to fully comprehend the harm they have caused by eliminating a number of tax credits, namely the medical. My husband and I are both retired and as normal have medical expenses that grow with age.

    Although they have touted their efforts as being positive, reality has set in – seniors and the less fortunate are now carrying more of the tax burden. The real question is – who do they represent – a portion of the electorate or all?

    Hopefully there is so much push back, they will move forward to repeal this unjust tax law.

  4. Keith Thomson

    “SKIN IN THE GAME” is Republican-speak for taking a pound of flesh from lower income working families and small businesses and transferring it to already highly successful individuals and corporations. Its all about losers and winners to them. They don’t seem to care if “losers” criticize their bad policies.

  5. Perry Woods

    The problem with Laura’s calculation, it does not take into account additional sales taxes she is paying, nor the upcoming higher gas taxes, nor the higher insurance rates because NCGA refuses to expand medicaid.

  6. Someone from Main Street

    For those who saw nominal savings, that went to paying more sales tax. Next summer, families of teens will pay for driver’s ed – and the cost born by parents does not cover the actual cost of the program – so schools will need to cut services and programs to fund this. Here’s to hoping voters make GOP pay at the polls for their arrogance and lies.

    • Cynthia

      you are so right!

Related Posts


Get the latest posts from PoliticsNC delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!