Raleigh, N.C. — After working through several different iterations of tax reform, the House and Senate are negotiating their differences over House Bill 998. The measure does not go as far as earlier Senate tax reform proposals, but would be a first step in remaking North Carolina's tax system.
Here are some highlights:
|Tax Provision||House Version||Senate Version|
|Personal Income Tax||Lowers the current three-tiered personal income tax rate that tops out at 7.75 percent to a flat 5.9 percent rate for all taxpayers.||Lowers the current three-tiered tax rate to 5.4 percent in 2014 and then to 5.25 percent in 2015. It creates a "zero bracket" under which low income taxpayers would pay no income tax. A couple married, filing jointly, would pay no income tax on their first $15,000 of income.|
|Social Security||Does not make any changes to how Social Security income is taxed.||The Senate plan treats Social Security income as it us under federal tax law. Senate leaders say that it would not lead to any additional imposition of income tax on Social Security income, but advocacy groups are concerned that those with income additional to Social Security could end up paying more.|
|Mortgage and charitable deductions.||Caps deductions for mortgage interest and local property taxes at $25,000. Allows full deduction for charitable contributions. Repeals the $50,000 exemption for personal business income.||Eliminates mortgage interest deductions and repeals credit for charitable contributions.|
|Corporate Income tax:||Reduces the corporate income tax rate from 6.9% to 6.5% in 2014, to 6.35% in 2015, to 6.2% in 2016, to 5.6% in 2017, and to 5.4% in 2018.||Reduces corporate income tax from 6.9 percent to 6 percent in 2014, and continues to ratchet down the rate until corporate income tax is eliminated in 2017.|
|Sales Tax:||Does not change the state sales tax rate. However, it expands sales taxes to services associated with physical goods such as delivery services or warranties on electronics.||Does not change the state sales tax rate. However, the Senate bill does end several exemptions to sales taxes, including for nutritional supplements sold by chiropractors and for newspapers sold from vending machines. Limits the sales tax refunds that nonprofits can claim.|
|Food and movies:||Does not make changes to how groceries are taxed. Imposes full sales tax on movies and live entertainment.||Imposes full sales tax on movies and live entertainment. Repeals the local sales tax on groceries, but allows county governments to re-impose the tax if they find themselves in need of the revenue.|
|Sales Tax holidays:||Ends the Energy Star sales tax holiday.||Repeals both the Energy Star sales tax holiday and the back-to-school sales tax holiday weekend in the summer.|
|Utilities:||Makes electricity and piped natural gas subject to the combined statewide sales tax rate, which is higher than the current franchise tax rate. However, some of that money is given back to local governments.||Makes electricity and piped natural gas subject to the combined statewide sales tax rate, which is higher than the current franchise tax rate. Unlike the House plan, the Senate plan does not give any of the money that used to go to cities and counties back to local governments under this plan.|
|Estate Tax||The House passed a bill eliminating the estate tax earlier this year.||The Senate plan would eliminate the estate tax.|
The House plan would decrease revenue coming into the state by roughly $250 million over the next two years and roughly $1 billion over the next four years.
The Senate plan would decrease revenue coming into the state by $4 billion over the next four years. This more dramatic cut in state revenues, and the required cuts in state spending, are a key sticking point between the two chambers.