Dems criticize GOP 'tax day surprise'

Posted April 15, 2015

Dem presser sign, April 15

— House and Senate Democrats held a Tax Day press conference Wednesday to criticize the 2013 Republican tax overhaul and to pledge to work to change it.

The event was the final stop of what Progress NC, a left-leaning group, is calling the "Tax Hike Truth Tour," a campaign that's been traveling around the state during the last week criticizing Republican leaders for, they say, helping the wealthy at the expense of lower- and middle-class earners.

"This year, families across the state are feeling for the first time an added burden in their wallets," said Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue.

Blue, D-Wake, said the Republican-penned overhaul "gave billions of dollars in tax handouts to big corporations and the wealthiest individuals while raising taxes on lower- and working-class families."

"A working family in North Carolina can't get a break, not a tax break anyway," agreed House Minority Leader Larry Hall, saying that two-thirds of the benefit of the 2013 tax reform goes to taxpayers making nearly seven figures.

"Over $900,000 a year, you're getting a tax break. Working families can barely make it from paycheck to paycheck," said Hall, D-Durham.

The event featured three taxpayers who said they had seen their state tax bills increase substantially because of the overhaul.

Ken Cowick, 75, said his state tax liability had gone from $251 for 2013 to $1,380 for 2014 – a 456 percent increase – largely due to the loss of a deduction for medical expenses and a personal deduction. He said his income had increased only by 1 percent.

"It's pretty significant for someone who's living on Social Security, pensions and some investments to find that you now are paying over $100 a month on your state taxes," Cowick said. "If we would have known of the additional changes that were going to take place before we filed our taxes this year, I think the election last fall would have been very different."

Lewise Busch, who lives with her husband in a continuing care community in Chapel Hill, said their state tax liability went from $0 for 2013 to $999 for 2014.

"I hope [the increases] really were not intended," Busch said. "I hope the legislature will right this wrong."

Joyce Adams, a farm and small-business owner in Willow Springs, said the loss of the farm machinery tax credit was a difficult blow for her struggling business, as was the loss of the $50,000 exemption for small-business income.

Republican authors of the overhaul say taxpayers across all income brackets should be paying less, but they've also consistently noted that there would "winners and losers" in each group.

However, a nonpartisan staff analysis of the tax changes distributed Wednesday by Senate leaders shows upper-income earners are consistently more likely to be winners. In a comparison of the effects of the changes on different filers in a variety of tax brackets, filers making $250,000 or more saw the biggest tax cut – in both numbers and percentages – in all but one case.

The state Republican Party, which has been attacking Progress NC on political grounds, did so again after the event, but did not offer a response to the taxpayers featured in the event as requested by WRAL News.

"It is clear that overall taxes are lower, and the Democrat party and Progress NC have zero credibility on this issue," said NCGOP director Todd Poole.


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  • Tom Boswell Apr 16, 2015
    user avatar

    Love the fact that people are complaining that their taxes have increased because of Republicans yet these same Democrats say nothing about the massive increases coming to Wake County thanks to the Democratic controlled school board and county commissioners. In November of 2013, we gave the school board 800 million dollars increasing our real estate taxes by 14%. Now they want to set up another massive bond less than two years later for construction, another for more teachers raise and yet a third for a wasted mass transit bond. No outrage for this however because Democrats are responsible.

  • Tom Boswell Apr 16, 2015
    user avatar

    My taxes went down. According to the Tax Foundations web site our overall state tax burden in one year went from the 6th highest in the country to the 34th highest. North Carolina is singled out on the Tax Foundations web site. Under Democrats they placed a 6% state income tax rate on the lowest income level a couple making less than $21,250. At that level this was the highest rate in the country. Only 18 states taxed their wealthiest 6% or more. In this year’s edition, North Carolina has improved dramatically from 44th place last year to 16th place this year, the single largest rank jump in the history of the Index. The state improved its score in the corporate, individual, and sales tax components of the Index, and as the reform package continues to phase in, the state is projected to continue climbing the rankings.

  • Timothy Watson Apr 15, 2015
    user avatar

    I can not understand how people can not see this assault on the middle class and the poor. Then turnaround vote against their own self interest. The current GA has pulled the curtain over the eyes of the people of NC saying it was a tax break for everyone. So much bull......

  • Nathaniel Grubbs Apr 15, 2015
    user avatar

    My income did not change between this year and last, yet my state refund dropped drastically. And let's not forget that the less you make, the higher the percentage of your income goes to necessities like food and housing. As I recall, the GA also increased sales taxes, meaning those making less are spending a higher percentage of their income on taxes, even if they are paying the same in income tax.

  • Terry Watts Apr 15, 2015
    user avatar

    This is how the GOP supports small business: "the loss of the $50,000 exemption for small business income."