House budget restores historic tax credits, medical deductions

Posted May 18, 2015

State budget

— Members of the House Finance Committee will take up a budget bill Monday afternoon that would at least partially restore North Carolina's historic preservation tax credit program and give seniors back a tax deduction on medical expenses.

Committee members are expected to meet at 5 p.m.

The budget bill circulated to members of the House Finance Committee on Sunday night contains raises to certain Division of Motor Vehicles fees outlined in portions of the budget rolled out last week. For example, the fee for renewing a driver's license would go up by $2 per year, from $4 to $6 for Class A, B, and C licenses. That would be a $20 increase for a license renewed for 10 years.

House budget writers would also increase the fees for restoring a driver's license that had been revoked and for obtaining a learner's permit.

The bill sent to Finance Committee members also restores the historic rehabilitation tax credit, which Gov. Pat McCrory has been lobbying for over the past six months. It caps the available credit at $20 million for larger projects and at $22,500 for "non-revenue producing" structures, such as single-family homes.

It also restores the medical expense tax deduction, but only for those over age 65. Seniors had pelted lawmakers with complaints over high tax bills following the expiration of the credit before the 2014 tax year.

The bill would also tweak an earlier agreement that makes changes to the gas tax, which is primarily used for building roads and other transportation projects.

Instead of dipping to a flat rate of 35 cents per gallon on Jan. 1, 2016, the new House budget bill would change that rate to 33 cents per gallon on for gasoline and 36 cents per gallon for diesel fuel.

Under the conference report for Senate Bill 20, North Carolina's gas tax would dip to 36 cents per gallon on April 1. On Jan. 1, 2016, that would dip again to 35 cents per gallon, and then on July 1, 2016, it would go down to 34 cents per gallon. The House bill also eliminates a mid-2016 change to the gas tax, but leaves a new formula based on changes in population and the Consumer Price Index to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

Other features of the bill include:

  • allowing the federal government to collect debts owed by taxpayers from state tax refunds. This power is already available to cities, counties and the North Carolina state government itself. However, the same provision eliminates this debt collection ability for medical facilities associated with the UNC School of Medicine.
  • extending a sales tax break for motor sports teams for four years.
  • authorizing the Office of the State Treasurer to issue a limited number of two-thirds bonds if the lawmakers and voters don't approve a broader bond package by May of 2016. Two third bonds borrowed based on two-thirds of debt the state has paid back based on prior bond issues. Gov. Pat McCrory has proposed borrowing nearly $3 billion, more than half of which would go toward roads, while the remaining part would go toward aging state buildings. The maximum amount borrowed under the two thirds bonds would be $269.5 million and go to a handful of state building projects.
  • increased fee for food inspections.
  • creating licensing fees and regulations for overnight adult care respite homes, meant to give temporary relief to those caring for disabled or elderly relatives.
  • requiring the N.C. Zoo, state aquariums, and state parks to use dynamic pricing that raises or lowers prices in order to lure more visitors and maximize revenue.

The bill, House Bill 97, will emerge from Finance with just the finance provisions included. Other budget provisions are expected to be stitched into the document before it goes to an all-day Appropriations Committee meeting on Tuesday.

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  • Tom Boswell May 18, 2015
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    Lets see the last time the Democrats were fully in charge they created in 2010 a budget that for the two years ending June 30, 2012 created the country's fifth largest budget deficit of 2.5 billion. Republicans now fully in charge while cutting our tax burden from the 6th highest to the 34th highest have created a 400 million dollar surplus.