Last updated: August 05. 2014 12:01AM - 125 Views

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Not only has the General Assembly taken away the state’s tax-free weekend, it has gone a step further by making it illegal for merchants to not charge consumers taxes on purchases — even if the merchant still pays the full taxes to the state.


Recently, Ricky Leinwand decided he wanted to keep the local shoppers from being forced to travel out-of-state — to neighboring South Carolina, Virginia or Tennessee — to take advantage of tax-free weekends. So he publicly offered to forego charging the tax on purchases, and would simply pay the tax himself to the state.


Commendable, but no good.


He was soon informed that doing so would be a Class 1 misdemeanor (N.C. General Statute 105-164.9) and, according to the N.C. Department of Revenue, such instances would be investigated and prosecuted.


We think the state is acting far beyond petty in this case. After all, the state would still get its tax money, and the effort by Leinwand’s is a good-faith gesture that gives shoppers a reason to stay home — which would mean the state would benefit through additional gas and restaurant sales.


Instead, the General Assembly is acting like it wants the “embly” removed and all but handing North Carolina taxpayers’ money to its neighbors.


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Speaking of taxes


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New analysis from the N.C. Justice Center projects that the cost of North Carolina’s personal income tax cuts will be much higher than previously expected, reaching $1 billion by 2016. The net revenue loss of the full tax package, including not only the personal income tax cuts but also changes to the corporate income tax and the sales tax, could exceed $1.2 billion by 2016.


North Carolina can’t afford $1 billion in income tax cuts.


Because of the cuts, there are simply too few dollars to meet the needs of our communities. Lawmakers already are proposing harmful funding cuts to public education and health to pay for other things the state needs, like teacher pay raises. Additionally, the huge revenue losses caused by the tax cuts will prevent North Carolina from repairing the damage of funding cuts imposed after the recession hit.


There are better choices for North Carolina’s future.


Our lawmakers can stop the next round of income tax cuts that are scheduled to go into effect in January 2015. Doing so would save approximately $100 million in the next fiscal year and $300 million the 2016 calendar year. That’s enough to get a third of the way closer to pre-recession spending levels in public education.


If the legislature reversed the income tax cuts that have already gone into effect and returned to a graduated income tax rate structure, the state would be able to restore more of the funding cuts, expand preschool programs, and ensure the state’s most vulnerable citizens can receive health care.


North Carolinians want an economy that promotes economic prosperity for all. Cutting taxes at the expense of public investments that serve as the foundation of economic growth fails to do so.

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