Raleigh, N.C. — One of the fiercest and best known anti-tax campaigners in the country has lent his support to the state Senate's tax reform efforts.
Grover Norquist, the head of Americans Tax Reform and a veteran of tax reform efforts going back 30 years, spoke at a news conference Thursday morning saying that North Carolina would do well to follow the tax reform measure outlined by Senate leaders.
"What's being put forth in North Carolina is in keeping with movement in other states, but it's one of the more dramatic, forward-looking, well-thought-through proposals," Norquist said.
Broadly speaking, the Senate plan would lower income and sales tax rates while applying sales taxes to items and services that currently aren't taxed. However, the Senate has not put out a bill or the accompanying legislative analysis that would allow for a full examination of the plan.
Meanwhile, Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, confirms an Associated Press story saying he will roll out the House version of a tax reform package later Thursday. That plan would move more cautiously, particularly with regard to sales taxes.
Although Norquist said he was appearing on behalf of the Senate plan, both measures moved in the right direction.
"I'm all in favor of compromising in the direction of liberty," Norquist said when asked if he would weigh in on one plan versus the other. "There are no bad guys in this rodeo."
The Senate plan is roughly "revenue neutral," meaning it will raise the same amount of money, or a bit less, than the current tax system overall.
However, some tax taxpayers will pay more in sales taxes than they save in lower income tax rates.
Norquist, who is famous for eliciting "anti-tax pledges" from lawmakers, said it was acceptable for some individuals to pay more in taxes as along as overall tax collections go down.
"As I look at it, (the Senate tax plan) sufficiently reduces taxes so that ought not to happen," Norquist said.
Pushed specifically on claims that the plan could increase the tax burden on some low- and middle-income families, Norquist said people should look at the overall effects of the plan. North Carolina's economy, he said, would grow and raise people's income.
"The most regressive part of the North Carolina income tax is your high unemployment rate compared with states with lower tax burdens," he said.
It is worth pointing out that liberal economists disagree with the conclusion that the economy will grow under lower tax rates.