Striking a nerve

by | Apr 9, 2015 | Editor's Blog, Tax Reform | 14 comments

Boy, these tax increases have Republican operatives unnerved. Several anonymous posters took issue with my post yesterday bemoaning paying higher state income taxes. Then on twitter, I noticed a fight between Progress NC staffers and GOP legislative staffers over the same issue.

The Republicans keep arguing semantics. The tax rate really did go down, they say. Democrats protested the $50,000 exemption the GOP gave to small businesses in 2011, the operatives complain, so now they shouldn’t argue about it being repealed.

None of that matters. Most people don’t pay enough attention to the legislature to get into the details of legislation. The most they hear are major points. The ones listening heard Pat McCrory and the GOP promise to reduce everyone’s taxes. The ones who weren’t listening figured not much would change.

Instead, a whole lot of people are just finishing their taxes and finding out they’re paying more or their refund is quite a bit smaller than expected. The ones paying attention believe McCrory and the Republicans lied to them. The one’s not paying attention are just pissed.

This tax debate is as much about politics as it is about policies. The politics has struck a nerve with Republicans who want to argue that their tax plan is making North Carolina more competitive. They screwed up, though, when they said it would put more money into taxpayers’ pockets. A lot of people are paying more, not less. That’s bad politics regardless of the policies.

Most voters don’t pay much attention to the details of policies. They don’t know whether the tax rate went up or down. They just know whether they pay more or less. If enough swing voters feel they got the short end of tax reform with no other benefits like higher wages or better services, Republicans, and McCrory in particular, will probably pay a price. On the other hand, if most people don’t think they paid appreciably more and see their personal economic situations improve, Republicans will probably gain.

We’ll find out over the next few months.


  1. Patti

    Since returning to NC in 1986, I have not paid more NC Taxes than were deducted from my paycheck each month; in fact, I have gotten an average, much needed refund of $500 for 29 years. This year, I had to send a check for $400 to Raleigh — no refund for me. “Thank you so much Republicans — nice move super-majority Republicans in Raleigh.” Perhaps, the NC people will speak up during the next election and vote this super-majority Republican-run General Assembly out of Raleigh. The Republican Legislators and Governor are taking away money, effective education, and much needed health care from the majority of NC people. Please stop — please take your toys and go home — please go find another state in which to play. We do not want your “tomfoolery” any longer; we’ve had enough!

  2. Linda Moore

    My 96 yo aunt is living in a skilled care facility. Her out of pocket medical expenses well over $90,000 / year. She is a self pay resident. Because of the GOP “reduction” in her tax rate & a modest increase in capital gains she gets to almost $5000 in NC state taxes. Why you ask? Because in their zest to help the rich get richer they capped medical expenses at $7500. Our most vulnerable citizens are paying these kinds of rates when last year she paid nothing. What percentage has her state taxes gone up?

  3. Joy Hewett

    Raising taxes on seniors’ pensions while giving 2.5 million tax dollars to fracking industry means taking a pound of flesh from elderly men and women trying to make ends meet (pay heating bills, food and transportation costs, etc.) to bribe a polluting industry making profits enough to drill and destroy our environment.

  4. Terry Startsman

    I have lived in New Bern for 13 years since I retired in 2001. During that time my NC income taxes have never been more that $35. I have just completed my 2014 return and will owe $550. This is totally due to the elimination of the medical expense deduction. As a retiree with limited income and $19,000 in medical expenses I cannot afford the additional taxes. I’m sure the top income rate reduction has helped some higher income people but has been devastating to people like me. This resulted in an over 1,500% NC income tax for me.

  5. Ron Rabatsky

    Not allowing me to deduct my medical expenses as in the past is an increase in my taxes–any way you look at it this disabled senior is paying more so corporations can get more tax beaks. See you later 3rd world state–I’m moving.

  6. Beth

    My retirement income went up a total of $371 over last year – all due to a SSA COLA. NC does not tax SSA but my NC tax liability for 2014 went up by $364 over 2013. Tell me again about my “tax cut”.

  7. don

    I 600.00 more than I did last year..same income and deductions as last year no lower tax here. fixed income retired person.

  8. Dan R

    This is the kind of easily understood and personally felt issue that can swing votes. I understand that the legislative districts have been thoroughly gerrymandered to the point where there are precious few competitive districts. There are some though. The Democratic Party needs to recruit credible candidates for every remotely competitive district in the state. If they don’t then they are guilty of political malpractice.

    Yes, I know they have been guilty of that in the past. I believe a sufficient number of people may have been awakened from their slumber to change that.

    I sure hope so.

    • Someone from Main Street

      IS there even a Democratic party in NC? Seems to have vanished – at least it was AWOL in the last election. And now Thom Tillis is sitting pretty in DC…

  9. Keith Thomson

    Remember at next years election, it is better to be pissed off than to be pissed on. Republican trickle down policies are working as they are designed to shift the tax burden down to lower income working families and small businesses.They want people to “have skin in the game.” Trouble is that people need their skin to keep their insides protected from the deregulated environmental impacts of Republican policies.

  10. Mike L

    My state tax refund is typically in the $100-$150 range so I was a bit surprised when my refund was just $1 this year. At least I didn’t owe money like some folks I know, but still…

    • Wiley Post

      Last year my wife and I received 480.00 back from the state. This purchased a set of tires, clothing and all this was purchased locally. This helped the small business with customers with money to spend. Today all the “extra” cash just goes to Art Pope.

      • Jeremy Sprinkle

        Your point about what y’all did with your refund is exactly why it was such a boneheaded move to repeal the EITC for 900,000 people to pay for estate tax cuts that benefited just 23 wealthy families in NC.

        Rich people stash their tax savings in offshore bank accounts. Everyone else spends that money – not unlike unemployment benefits – which does more to stimulate the economy and incentivize businesses to hire people than any tax break for corporations and the already wealthy ever did.

        • Judy Coggins

          Jeremy is so right about the difference between those who have a large disposable income and the rest of us! North Carolina’s economy needs strengthening, first by adding back the EITC, having a viable tax system that is fair to all and does not favor the extremely wealthy, encouraging and expanding health care for all, and increasing the minimum wage so that all workers can enjoy a living wage that will sustain a family.

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