Raleigh, N.C. — State House lawmakers voted Monday night to do away with the checkoff on state tax forms that lets taxpayers direct money to a political party.
The state's D-400 form allows an individual to direct $3 of his or her tax payment (or $6 for a couple) to the Democratic, Libertarian or Republican parties. That money comes out of what the taxpayer is already paying to the state, not out of his or her refund.
Rep. Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance, said House Bill 953, repealing the checkoff, will put about $2 million a year back into the state's General Fund.
He said the program doesn't allow other political parties equal access to funding, and he doesn't believe parties need the help.
"In the last presidential election," Riddell told the House, "$1.2 billion was raised by the respective candidates and their parties. There is not a want of successful fundraising in the nation nor in North Carolina.
"I don’t think it’s the job of state government to be soliciting money on behalf of political parties," he said.
Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, spoke against the bill, reminding House members that the tax checkoff program is completely voluntary.
“This check-off measure first became law as a bipartisan measure shortly after the Watergate fiasco, when people were concerned about the undue influence of money in politics. People are still concerned,” Alexander said. "This was all designed to get money out of politics.
"We wanted to encourage small donations by individuals to support the political party of their choice," he added. “These citizens are fighting large money and its influence in the body politics of this country.”
But Republicans weren't receptive to that argument.
"This was a bad idea when it started. It’s gotten as bad or worse over time," said Rep. Dana Bumgardner, R-Gaston. "The government has no business mixing taxpayer money and politics."
"If we came up here to get rid of failed ideas," added Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, "this is one of them."
The repeal passed the House 77-36 along party lines. It now goes to the Senate.